PERTH, WA: The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has recently granted registration as a Higher Education Provider (HEP) to one of Perth’s largest independent Registered Training Organizations (RTO), a move representing increased diversity of avenues to educational opportunities in the sector. Stanley College will soon be able to offer a Bachelor of Business, as well as Vocational Education Training (VET) qualifications.
The College’s President, Alberto Tassone, believes that the decision not only furthers Stanley College’s ambition to offer a wider range of quality education and training options, but may also reflect positive signs that pressures for reform in the Australian tertiary education sector may be resulting in much needed change. “As a dual-sector provider, we are now able to broaden our appeal to a greater diversity of students, represent a deeper value-proposition and offer an alternative student experience—different to that of a university, but of the same level of quality. “Further, our registration with TEQSA (in addition to that with ASQA) gives us strengthened capability to adapt proactively to possible changes in the regulatory environment in future. TEQSA’s rigorous assessment process has not only helped us achieve a high quality benchmark, but it has also encouraged us that the regulator wishes to support the sector through a more collaborative and partnering approach to providers,” Mr Tassone observed.
In its eleventh year of operation, Stanley College is privately owned and operated. With three campuses in the Perth Metropolitan Area, serving over 1600 students from 42 countries and around 180 staff members speaking 18 languages between them, it provides courses in Business, Leadership & Management; Hospitality and Commercial Cookery; Health and Early Childhood Education; English/ELICOS, Translation & Interpreting, and Professional Year Programs.
With the accreditation of a Bachelor of Business qualification, in addition to the competency-based Certificate and Diploma courses it has on scope, Stanley College is moving with its strategic vision of greater convergence between Higher Education and VET. With increasing cooperation between TEQSA and ASQA, signs are emerging that a more nuanced regulatory approach can nurture greater focus on educational outcomes more fit for users and industry. Such a regulatory environment will increasingly be able to ensure quality, accountability and transparency across public and smaller private providers, with the latter able to complement the whole sector with their efficiency and adaptability.
Stanley College believes dual-sector providers can help bridge the theory–practice gap, especially when they are already networked in diverse workforce segments and can contribute to increased collaboration between VET and HE institutions, with the potential benefits of such cross-sector thinking having spin-offs for research and innovation. The Stanley College Bachelor of Business is a case in point. The focus of the course is on Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and graduate employability outcomes, and students will spend a whole semester, in their final year, in an enterprise workplace. According to the College’s Vice President of Higher Education, Dr Michael Connor, there is unmet demand for experiences that allow students to apply the range of critical thinking skills they learn through higher education directly in work-place settings. “Universities have realized for some time now that this is what both students and enterprises need and want, and they are increasing their efforts to provide it. It’s challenging for public institutions, with expensive research agendas and large infrastructure commitments, to fine-tune their focus on the specific requirements of students in workplaces, particularly in business environments. A small and nimble institution like Stanley College is able to work at ‘street level,’ if you like, to develop the relationships necessary for an enterprise, a student, and the College each to understand what the others need and care about for a work-placement to succeed,” says Dr Connor. “We’re learning from the big institutions, and believe we can complement, in our own small way, their role in developing this aspect of the wider economy.”
Dr Michael Wong, the College’s Academic Registrar and Student Support Manager, adds, “Not only is the WIL approach going to benefit from our smaller scale, but international students, particularly, are going to appreciate the relatively more homely feel of our campus in West Perth.”
The Chair of Stanley College’s Academic Board, Dr Mark Israel, sees greater mission differentiation among providers as contributing to the strength of Australia’s tertiary education system: “Adding a dual sector provider like Stanley College to the mix will give potential students a greater choice of how and where to study a higher education degree in Perth that focuses on their employability as graduates.”
Being able to offer more choice of educational options will also enhance Western Australia’s position as a potential destination for international students, an economic benefit to the State which is recognized by activities of such organizations as Study Perth.
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