Deep concern at TAFE cuts
Victorian principals are deeply concerned about the cuts to TAFE funding in
this year’s State Government budget.
Not only will these cuts impact severely on those who have chosen a TAFE
pathway to further education but will also have significant ramifications for
government secondary schools and their students.
These cuts will mean the disappearance of many programs, and with them
the resources (including teachers) required to deliver those programs. To
suggest that at the moment there are skills shortage in one area rather than
another and therefore that extensive cuts can be made, shows deep disdain
for those most in need of education and reflects an ignorance of how training
We need a breadth of options, especially those which provide hands-on-
learning and clear pathways to employment.
It is naive to think that those enrolled in or currently interested in, for
example, catering or personal training courses will switch to carpentry or
plumbing in the short to medium term, even assuming the providers could
cater for an influx of students into such courses. A more likely result is that the
students will drop out of education.
Once you eliminate such courses, you cannot quickly replace them. The
physical resources are used for other things or, in the worst cases, sold off;
the teachers seek other work. These decisions are therefore not just cutting
programs in the short term, they are destroying the base on which future
courses would need to be built.
Importantly, these cuts are likely to have the greatest impact in regional areas
where student options are already limited. The cuts will mean students who
live in these areas are in much greater danger of dropping out of education
and having their employment options narrowed.
The move to lift fees to the level of private providers is to give a helping hand
to those whose main aim is to make money from education. Governments
ought to show greater moral purpose than this.
Secondary school students wishing to pursue the very popular VET pathways
will also be impacted as TAFEs claw back funds through increased charges
to schools for provision of these programs. Allied with this is the news that
VET funding is being ‘refocused’, that is, there will be cuts to funding per hour
for delivery and caps on fees. Schools are already struggling to keep pace
with these charges as the government has failed to keep VET funding to
schools in line with demand and cost to schools. This is on top of the already
substantial cuts to government school education.
This government has provided less money for government education, for
TAFE colleges, and for VCAL programs; but more money for jails, for police
and for train station protective services officers. A reflection of cause and