Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2008
Summary of Projects
Developing Effective Models for Dual Sector Qualifications in International Business
Dr Fang Zhao
Ms Kylie Paterson-Jonas
Summary of the project, outcomes, impacts and dissemination
Initially, the project on “Developing Effective Models for Dual Sector Qualifications in International Business” attempted to find the right pathway mix to articulate TAFE students to Higher Education.
Upon reviewing the literature, collecting primary data through interviews, and reviewing the models used in other institutions, it was found there is a demand for courses in international business both at TAFE and higher education level.
In addition, there is a relatively small demand (10-20%) for Advanced Diploma students to articulate from TAFE to higher education). If RMIT does not meet this demand, other institutions will almost certainly do so. In reality, some students will not have the ability, desire or financial capacity to complete higher education, and employers in the industry have expressed strong support for courses that have a sound practical aspect. This suggests that the TAFE course in international business has at least a medium-term future based on student and industry needs and preferences. At the same time, there appears to be a valid case that students will perform better if they complete articulation through the one institution. RMIT should continue to offer articulation pathways and undertake the work required to better integrate the two levels.
In addition, it was found employers have growing expectations that young employees will be equipped with a relevant degree and that a degree would be necessary for employees to progress through management ranks. At the same time, industries made clear a preference for employees with practical hands-on experience that enabled them to become productive quickly. These demands may be met by the dual TAFE-HE qualification. From this analysis, there appears to be a preference by employers for dual qualifications. The time needed to complete two qualifications as well as the additional cost in fees that is incurred for entry into an industry with lower salary expectations, suggests that it will be favoured by a limited number of students expecting to work in Australia.
International students may be less concerned about entry salaries if they propose to work overseas, but then the TAFE hands-on experience in Australia may have lesser value in overseas jurisdictions with different rules.
The model chosen needed the potential to reach the greatest number of students while retaining the quality of the program and the “brand-richness” of RMIT.
After careful evaluation each of the proposed models the following recommendations are made:
1. That Model 2 to be adopted, as it has the potential to to achieve good outcomes.
2. Students starting the Certificate IV and moving onto the Associate Degree need to achieve a level of no-less than 70% in each course, to ensure they are adequately prepared for study in degree programs.
3. That industry committees be formed to provide better links between schools and industry, and to keep everyone on “the same page”.
4. When students move from the Cert IV to the Associate Degree and then transition from the Associate Degree to the Bachelor Degree they attend a mandatory orientation class and enter into learning contracts, which includes attending SLAMS and obtaining a mentor to help make the transition a smooth one and to ensure all are integrated into their new program.
5. That co-op is retained as an integral part of the program, either in 6 or 12 month blocks. This will ensure that students have solid links with industry and are work ready on completion of their studies.