Rally over TAFE’s future

Phil Chadwick
TAFE Organiser

The protest opposite MP Louise Markus' office at Windsor

TAFE teachers gathered opposite the office of the federal Liberal MP for Macquarie, Louise Markus, on June 3 for a rally against plans for a federal takeover of TAFE.

Despite huge problems with the flawed VET Fee-Help student loan scheme — which cost taxpayers $4 billion in 2015 alone — secret documents prepared for the Council of Australia Governments meeting, leaked in February, show the federal Coalition government, if re-elected, will push ahead with its plan to takeover responsibility for vocational education and training (VET). Under the plan TAFEs would become federally controlled.

“TAFE and VET fees would be further deregulated and TAFEs would receive the same levels of funding as private colleges, removing the capacity of states to fund TAFEs for their community service and other obligations,” NSW TAFE Teachers Association President Phillip Chadwick said.

“Funding for VET would increasingly come only from student loans, thus rapidly shifting costs on to students. If the loan scheme is to be expanded to Certificate 2 and 3 level courses, apprentices and trainees will then have sizeable VET Fee-Help loans hanging over their heads to repay.”

The meeting at Windsor was addressed by NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge; Greens candidate for Macquarie, Terry Morgan; NSW shadow minister for skills and industry and Londonderry MP Prue Car; and ALP candidate for Macquarie Susan Templeman.

The TAFE Teachers Association will continue to campaign to ensure that students have access to quality TAFE courses. There is deep concern that reforms by both state and federal governments will strip funding from TAFE and shift the costs to students.