Briefing paper

Degrees north: vocational and university education in Australia and Nordic countries

Higher education Vocational education and training Higher education reform Universities Australia Finland

Australia should consider whether it wants a higher education and vocational training system more like that of Finland or more like the USA, according to this report from The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre.

The report, co-authored by Professor Andrew Scott, Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe and Mr Shirley Jackson, shows Australian vocational training is in crisis and explains how the higher education experience of Finland should be used as a blueprint for improving outcomes in Australia.

The report has been released ahead of the Nordic Policy Centre’s roundtable discussion on building an equitable vocational pathway in Australia, which is being hosted by The Embassy of Finland in Canberra.

Key points:

Australia is excessively prioritising university education over vocational training and apprenticeships

Social and institutional prejudice against vocational education is impacting Australia’s ability to prepare for the labour market of the future

Finland has achieved remarkable upward educational mobility with an equitable higher education and training system built on four pillars;

  • Publicly funded education and training
  • Producing highly capable graduates
  • Supporting students financially via social security
  • Debt-free tuition and training

Australia should consider adopting these policies and a ‘Youth Guarantee’, which would see every unemployed young Australian offered work, work experience, training or education.

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