City News

TAFE cuts backlash

On the chopping block: Sydney Institute of TAFE braces for cuts.

The Greens will introduce a bill later this month which it says would reverse student fee increases, freeze funding to private operators, and halt the “Smart and Skilled” reform package that will limit the list of qualifications eligible for government funding.

Member for Balmain Jamie Parker said the reforms would hit Ultimo TAFE in particular, had already lost teachers from IT, cookery, ESL and foundation studies departments, as well as migrant education consultants.

“TAFE students are being asked to pay more in order to receive less,” he said.

“Class sizes will rise, the range of courses will be reduced and time to help individual students will all but disappear.”

Mr Parker said it appeared the HSC would no longer be offered at Ultimo TAFE, either. But in a statement to City News, Sydney TAFE said Ultimo and Gymea campuses deliver the Tertiary Preparation Course instead, which is highly-regarded by universities and allows students to attain a tertiary entrance score.

“TPC completions are much higher than for the HSC in TAFE [and] the HSC is still delivered at Randwick with strong enrolments,” said director David Riordan.

He acknowledged the institute had lost teaching staff due to a “significant downturn in student enrolments”, but clarified that the total figure was less than 55 over the past year.

“During this time 20 new positions were created and filled across both teaching and educational support areas,” Mr Riordan said.

Last month, education minister Adrian Piccoli announced the appointment of six new members to the TAFE Commission Board, who are tasked with overseeing the transition to “Smart and Skilled”.

The Greens say this reform package amounts to a competitive training market with will precipitate a “race to the bottom” against private operators.

A public meeting will be held at Leichhardt Town Hall at 6pm on Tuesday, February 25 with Greens education spokesperson Dr John Kaye, union representatives and the TAFE Community Alliance.

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