Are Broad-Based Vouchers an Effective Way to Support Life-Long Learning? Evidence from an Australian Reform
AuthorPolidano, C; van de Ven, J; Voitchovsky, S
Source TitleResearch in Higher Education
University of Melbourne Author/sPolidano, Cain
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsPolidano, C., van de Ven, J. & Voitchovsky, S. (2021). Are Broad-Based Vouchers an Effective Way to Support Life-Long Learning? Evidence from an Australian Reform. RESEARCH IN HIGHER EDUCATION, 62 (7), pp.998-1038. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-021-09631-1.
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Increasing mature-age access to education and training in a way that is responsive to changing labour market needs is a key policy challenge. In this paper we examine the impacts of a unique reform in the Australian state of Victoria that aimed to meet this challenge by introducing a broad-based voucher for those 25 and older. In effect, the reform uncapped public course-level funding and linked it to individual student choice instead of centralised funding allocations. Using national administrative enrolment data and difference-in-differences estimation, exploiting the continuation of existing centralised funding models in other states, we find that the voucher increased mature-age vocational education and training participation and improved the alignment of course enrolments with measures of prevailing skill needs, including enrolments of disadvantaged groups. Our study provides first evidence on the use of broad-based vouchers in vocational education and training to expand access to mature-age learning in a demand-responsive way. These results provide support for policies that put student choice at the centre of efforts to lift mature-age access to training, which is especially important for countries, such as the United States, that have traditionally funded vocational education and training through centralised allocations.
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