Federation resolved at Annual Conference to escalate the “Stop TAFE Cuts” campaign to Gonski levels, with a large-scale recruitment drive and intensive training for activists in the community.
“We will resource it well and make this the national issue that we have made Gonski,” Federation President Maurie Mulheron told the conference. Federation will also work to build cross-party political support to commit to a
70 per cent funding guarantee for TAFE, he told delegates.
A resolution to take action was adopted by conference after a presentation by Australian Education Union Deputy Federal Secretary Pat Forward.
She told delegates that young people are turning away from vocational education in droves due to damage done to the reputation of the sector, and the trend will worsen with policy outlined in this year’s federal Budget.
Along with campus closures, which have left some students with loans still to repay, new measures such as the Federal Government’s support for university courses including sub-bachelor level diplomas, which until now had been offered by TAFE, will spell more trouble for TAFE, she said. About 30 per cent of TAFE courses are diplomas and advanced diplomas, so the delivery of those qualifications will now be gutted.
“This initiative by this Federal Government will decimate the delivery of diplomas and advanced diplomas in TAFE, because in very simple terms it will be much cheaper for a student to do these at university than it is for them to do it at TAFE, where in many cases now they are basically paying full fee for service,” Ms Forward said. In universities, 60 per cent of the cost of HECS loans are paid by the government.
“In this year’s federal Budget, basically what we have seen is a government which has walked away from vocational education. All it delivered in the federal Budget was a decrease in funding in real terms of 10 per cent over the next year.” Teachers see on a daily basis, students dealing with the stress of debt for courses at TAFE colleges that have collapsed, and where they have received little or no training for the costs they have incurred.
“At the moment, we are seeing an absolute collapse in enrolments in vocational education, public and private,” Ms Forward told the Annual Conference, held in July at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour. “Last year, enrolments in the sector declined by 16 per cent.”
Ms Forward told delegates funding has fallen by 42 per cent since 1997 and will be further cut by almost 10 per cent over the next year.
“TAFE has been in a hell of a lot of trouble and remains in a hell of a lot of trouble,” she said.