The COVID-19 crisis has forced all education and training providers to innovate rapidly. Even before COVID-19, the Mitchell Institute was a strong advocate for innovation in tertiary education, across both vocational education and training (VET) and higher education.
In Victoria, the Skills for Victoria’s Growing Economy review occurred as the pandemic unfolded, and explored how innovation in post-secondary education and training could build capacity for innovation in the workforce, to accelerate post-COVID economic recovery.
This paper supplements the Mitchell Institute’s analysis of the future of VET policy, by examining new ways of delivering tertiary education emerging within Victoria University (VU). As the host university for Mitchell Institute, VU is committed to contributing to the wider tertiary education policy education agenda, and sharing insights and new ideas. This paper applies Mitchell Institute’s policy lens to VU innovations, to extract policy insights for the whole system.
Five areas of innovation at VU point to new directions for tertiary education policy:
Rethinking teaching – Block Model
VU’s unique Block Model is not just about restructuring learning into four-week ‘blocks’. It is also about prioritising the quality of teaching and putting the students at the centre. The success of the model shows the importance of putting quality teaching and students’ needs at the centre of tertiary education policy and provision, across VET and higher education.
As a dual-sector university, VU connects learning at all levels, from entry-level courses into VET, and from VET into higher education. Better policy support is needed to strengthen pathways, including to remove barriers created by higher education and VET funding models.
Rethinking work & learning
VU ensures that its students get the skills that industry needs, exemplified in its connections with industry in the new Melbourne Centre for Civic Construction. Delivering for industry also requires policy support for new models of learning, including a national cadetship program.
VU works closely with its community to analyse skills needs and job opportunities. The planned Mitchell Institute Centre for Jobs will pursue an innovative research agenda, covering jobs and skills growth; economic activity around precincts; and improved social inclusion. It will help policy-makers understand jobs and skills needs using a range of data at a local level.
VU is a ‘university without boundaries’, with an integral role in the west of Melbourne community. VU’s network of partnerships, including its connections to Aboriginal communities, point to the need for governments to support local collaborations to connect people to skills.