TAFE amalgamations must be funded properly

PRESS RESPONSE: The State School TeachersUnion is concerned that the State Government is using its plans to amalgamate TAFE colleges as an excuse to cut even more funding from the TAFE system.

The government has announced it will reduce the number of TAFE colleges from 11 to five and slash around 230 jobs.

The job losses come on top of around 250 that were cut as part of the voluntary separation scheme. That will now take job losses in the TAFE sector to almost 500 jobs in less than 4 years.

The model will mean the 70 TAFE campuses around the state will be managed by a network of five colleges from April this year.

SSTUWA Vice President Samantha Schofield said while the union was not fundamentally opposed to an amalgamation model, it was concerned that even more money was going to be cut from the TAFE system.

We have already seen $110 million stripped from the TAFE system over the last three years,she said. We have seen course fees rise by up to 650% over two years in some cases, and as a consequence, we have seen enrolments plummet.

We are pleased to see that the Minister has finally conceded that the TAFE system has faced huge challenges over the past few years, and has at last taken steps to address this.

However, we concerned that large, ongoing increases to student fees will see enrolments drop further, which will mean that any structural reform will fail.

Miss Schofield said the union wanted a guarantee that course offerings at each campus would not be reduced as a result of the changes.

She said the government also needed to be transparent and release the enrolment figures for 2015.