Opening of the Integrated Technology Hub at Box Hill Institute

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education

Thank you for welcoming me here to Box Hill Institute. It is a pleasure to represent the Commonwealth here today.

This impressive, state of the art, technology hub is the beneficiary of Government, education and industry collaboration.

The Australian Government provided $15 million to support this facility, which will give 3000 more students the opportunity to develop real-world skills in the building and electro-mechanical industries each year.

Of the more than 9000 students who will benefit from learning in the technology hub over its first three years, it is estimated 80 per cent will commence immediate employment and the rest will continue to higher tertiary studies. If this expectation becomes a reality, it will be an impressive result.

A critical element of the success of this new facility is its close collaboration with industry. Industry partners, such as the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association, have already provided equipment and facilities to support institute programmes. This collaboration will ensure students gain those skills employers require. This is vital to securing future employment.

Through consultation with industry, a new, innovative curriculum has also been developed to support the qualifications being delivered in this new facility.

I note that Box Hill Institute was awarded International Training Provider of the Year 2013 at the National Training Awards – a recognition of your achievements.

It is this creative and innovative approach to higher education that the Australian Government is encouraging through its higher education reforms, announced as part of the 2014–15 Budget. 

Our proposals will give higher education institutions even more freedom and autonomy to make the most of their strengths, to specialise and to offer courses that meet students’ needs. 

Institutions will make informed choices about the courses they deliver, the fees they set, the scholarships they provide and the support services they offer.

But it is students who will benefit most from the reforms. By 2018, there will be an additional 80 000 higher education students per year supported by the Commonwealth.

Students at non-university higher education providers, including TAFEs and private colleges, will have access to Commonwealth subsidies for undergraduate courses – from diplomas to bachelor degrees.

This will include students who currently undertake courses at Box Hill Institute, including in critical areas such as business, early childhood, hospitality management and sciences.

These higher education level accredited qualifications are not currently funded through Commonwealth Supported Places and, at the moment, students pay full fees for these courses. 

These additional students, like all Commonwealth supported higher education students, won’t have to pay a cent up front. They won’t have to pay anything until they earn more than $50 000.

Our reforms also remove the loan fee of 20 per cent for VET FEE-HELP – helping students undertaking VET courses.  They will give education institutions, like Box Hill Institute, new incentives and opportunities to develop innovative partnerships to offer the skills and knowledge local employers need.

The Government is also reforming Australia’s vocational education and training system.

My colleague, the Minister for Industry, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, has been consulting stakeholders regarding changes to the VET system that will remove red tape and excessive regulation and give students and prospective students more information about the courses they choose.

The Minister is also responding to the calls from industry for access to a better skilled workforce.

Minister Macfarlane has recently announced a number of initiatives designed to make Australia’s VET system more responsive to the needs of industry. These reforms include:

  • new arrangements for supporting apprentices and their employers
  • two new innovative training programmes for young people in regional areas
  • reforms to the operations of the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

The reforms are the second tranche of improvements to the system to elevate trades to the centre of the economy and focus on ensuring Australian workers are highly skilled and job ready.

This Government will ensure industry has a stronger voice in guaranteeing that Australia’s workforce is skilled, flexible and ready to drive economic growth in the industries of the future.

I once again congratulate Box Hill Institute on this innovative project, which so many students will benefit from. 

I look forward to hearing about the teaching and learning achievements that I am confident will come out of this facility.

It is my great pleasure to formally declare the Integrated Technology Hub open.

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