Is vocational education of lower status than higher education?

Earlier this month, Scott Morrison said that he wanted to raise the status of TAFE, declaring that “TAFE is as good as uni”.

On common status indicators, TAFE seems to come second to university education. There is status associated with academic ability, and TAFE requires lower school results for admission than university. The chart below shows the ATARs of students admitted to the two systems since the mid-1990s according to LSAY. Although almost all high-ATAR students go to university, the two sectors have long recruited in overlapping ATAR ranges. But the regularĀ media stories about low-ATAR university admissions might have narrowed the historical status gap. ATAR range

Higher education also benefits from being the gateway to high- prestige and highly-paid occupations. But as graduates find it more difficult to find high-prestige or well-paid jobs, andĀ  increasingly fall behind people with some vocational qualifications on employment and earnings, perhaps higher education’s status is slipping.

And there is some survey evidence that the status gap between the systems is not necessarily very large.Read More »