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The Victorian TAFE budget cuts were announced in May as part of the state budget, causing controversy among institutions and education unions alike. It is estimated that the budget cuts will amount to almost $300 million and will impact on Victoria’s 597,000 or so TAFE students despite healthy and growing enrolment figures. As a state, Victoria reported the largest increase of TAFE students (14.8 per percent), with an additional 77,000 students enrolling in a VET qualification in 2011 compared to 2010 (National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 2012).
If you’re a little confused and don’t quite know what the changes mean for TAFE education, read on for a rundown of how the budget cuts may affect you.
The major effects of the TAFE cuts:
- While some vocational courses (including building and construction) may receive increased funding, the majority will face cuts. The University of Ballarat has predicted that most of the fields of study in their TAFE division will be affected by the funding cuts — using business and hospitality as examples.
- Additional funding known as Full Service Provider payments (used for student services such as libraries) will be scrapped, meaning students will be subject to higher fees to cover the costs of these services.
- The hourly student fee cap is also being removed. This means that TAFE providers will be able to set their own fees at a level they believe their education and training warrants. The new fee structure will affect all students beginning study from July 1 onwards. Students who commenced TAFE study before this deadline will not be subject to the new fee structure until 2013.
- TAFE providers have been forced to re-evaluate their course offerings. In many cases, this has meant slashing a number of courses, as they will not be financially viable once funding is decreased. The Australian Education Union (AEU) has also suggested that some institutions may also be forced to close or merge with neighbouring providers.
- Some TAFE providers have also had to initiate staff redundancies, with thousands of jobs at risk across both metropolitan and regional Victoria.
- It is likely that the number of students will decrease, as course cuts will make TAFE study less accessible. Likewise, because these cuts may affect some of the more specialised fields such as fitness and visual arts, students may be forced to move to study.
- Some have also suggested that the cuts will have a negative impact on higher education, as increased fees and course cuts will make pathways to university more difficult.
If you are currently studying at a Victorian TAFE institute, it is likely that information sessions will be arranged over the coming weeks to discuss any changes to your course. Many institutions have arrangements in place for enrolled students to complete their courses. For full details, it is best to contact your program coordinator directly.
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