Adult and community education (ACE) is the most decentralised of the education sectors. As used here, ACE refers to the provision of those general adult education programs and activities (personal enrichment programs) which fall outside, but complement, the formal programs and qualification pathways provided by the school, VET and higher education sectors. ACE focuses on the provision of learning opportunities at a community level, rather than work-related training.
Courses range from general interest, recreational and leisure activities, personal development, social awareness and craft, through to vocational, remedial and basic education. Community-based adult education is open to all, and its non-formal characteristic demonstrates the capacity of the community to develop alternatives to institution-based education.
During 2003 there were 209,500 enrolments in personal enrichment programs, of which 72% were by females. These enrolments were mainly with community-based providers (79% of total enrolments in 2003), the balance being largely with TAFE and other publicly funded providers. It should be noted, however, there is no national data standard for ACE and no obligation for some course providers to provide data on ACE activity to a national data collection. Consequently, enrolments in personal enrichment programs are understated.
Some 29% of enrolments in personal enrichment programs in 2003 were in creative arts courses, while 15% were in society and culture courses, and 11% in health courses (table 10.21). A further 22% of total enrolments were in mixed field programmes.
10.21 COURSE ENROLMENTS IN PERSONAL ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS - 2003
|Field of education|
|Natural and physical sciences|
|Engineering and related technologies|
|Architecture and building|
|Agriculture, environmental and related studies|
|Management and commerce|
|Society and culture|
|Food, hospitality and personal services|
|Mixed field programmes|
|(a) Includes 'sex not stated'.|
Source: National Centre for Vocational Education Research, data available on request, Australian Vocational Education and Training Statistics: Students and Courses.