On 11 October 2016, the Senate established the Select Committee on Red
Tape (committee) to inquire into and report on the effect of restrictions and
prohibitions on business (red tape) on the economy and community, by 1 December 2017,
which was later extended to 3 December 2018, with particular reference to:
effects on compliance costs (in hours and money), economic output, employment
and government revenue, with particular attention to industries, such as mining,
manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, and small business;
specific areas of red tape that are particularly burdensome, complex, redundant
or duplicated across jurisdictions;
impact on health, safety and economic opportunity, particularly for the
low-skilled and disadvantaged;
effectiveness of the Abbott, Turnbull and previous governments' efforts to
reduce red tape;
adequacy of current institutional structures (such as Regulation Impact
Statements, the Office of Best Practice Regulation and red tape repeal days)
for achieving genuine and permanent reductions to red tape;
institutional arrangements to reduce red tape, including providing subsidies or
tax concessions to businesses to achieve outcomes currently achieved through regulation;
different jurisdictions in Australia and internationally have attempted to
reduce red tape; and
The committee decided to conduct the inquiry by focusing on specific
areas. This interim report presents the committee's findings and conclusions
about the effect of red tape on private education (private education inquiry).
Conduct of the private education inquiry and acknowledgement
The committee advertised the private education inquiry on its website
and wrote to a number of organisations, inviting submissions by 8 August 2018. The committee
continued to accept submissions received after this date. In total, the committee
received 16 submissions, which are listed at Appendix 1. The committee
held a public hearing in Melbourne on 9 October 2018. The witnesses who
appeared before the committee are listed at Appendix 2. The committee thanks
the individuals and organisations, who made submissions and gave evidence to
assist the committee with its private education inquiry.
Scope of the report
Chapter one outlines the regulatory context for private education.
Chapter two then examines some of the information presented to the committee,
which may be drawn upon in the committee's final report.
Regulatory context for private education
In Australia the formal education system starts at preschool (children
aged 3–5 years) and continues through the years of primary and secondary
school (children aged 5–16+ years) to post-school education (vocational
education and training (VET); higher education). This report discusses three
sectors only: school education, higher education, and VET.
School education sector
The Australian Government is not responsible for school education.
However, under a national agreement the government has certain shared and sole responsibilities.
The latter category includes funding for non-government (private) schools,
which is primarily provided through the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth).
The basic funding conditions set out in the Act include a requirement that
private schools must be not-for-profit (section 75). The Australian
Government provides the majority of public funding for private schools ($10.0
billion in 2016),
with the funding level to increase by $3.2 billion over the next 10 years.
Higher education sector
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency is the national
quality and regulatory agency for the higher education sector. The Tertiary
Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (Cth) sets out the agency's
core functions, such as registering providers and accrediting their courses of
study (section 134).
The Act also provides for basic regulatory principles (necessity, risk and
proportionality, sections 13–16) and a standards-based quality framework
(the Higher Education Standards Framework).
The legislative framework also includes the Education Services for Overseas
Students Act 2000 (Cth), which provides additional requirements for
providers offering courses of study to international students.
The Australian Government supports higher education through various policies, programs
and funding, which is primarily administered under the Higher Education
Support Act 2003 (Cth).
This Act establishes the Higher Education Loan Program to provide income
contingent loans to eligible students.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority is the regulatory agency for the
VET sector throughout Australia, excepting certain registered training
organisations in Victoria and Western Australia.
The authority's core functions are set out in the National Vocational
Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth),
for example, registration of training providers and accreditation of VET
courses (section 157). The Act also provides for a risk-based approach to
regulation (Risk Assessment Framework, section 190). Under a national
agreement, the Australian Government funds state and territory governments to
support their training systems and provides certain specific interventions and
Australian Government's overall
According to the Department of Education and Training, the Australian
Government is committed to a high-quality education sector underpinned by
These regulatory frameworks, which apply to all education
institutions, maintain the quality and reputation of Australia's world-class
education. Australia's education landscape is characterised by diverse
stakeholder objectives, perspectives and fiscal pressures. The regulatory
frameworks reflect this environment and take into account the unique nature of
education providers. Private education providers contribute greatly to the
schools, vocational education and training, and higher education sectors, and have
a significant role to play in supporting a diverse training market and learner
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