Students organised a protest at Hornsby TAFE. Photo by Carolyn Pettigrew

Sculpting future failure?

Astrid O'Neill
Relief TAFE Organiser

Opportunities to study visual arts at TAFE have been reduced even further.

Northern Sydney Institute is to consolidate most of its visual arts courses at Meadowbank.

It has cancelled courses at Hornsby and Northern Beaches (Brookvale) campuses. Students enrolled for courses at the Hornsby campus learned the fate of their courses just the week before classes were to commence.

Courses to be run at Meadowbank have not been confirmed. Ceramics courses will continue to be offered at Hornsby and Northern Beaches (Brookvale).

Only two teachers and a head teacher will be left to staff the diploma and advanced diploma courses. Five permanent teachers and three head teacher positions, as well as many more part-time casual teacher positions, will be deleted.

Students demonstrated against the cuts at Hornsby college the day after teaching and technical staff were told that most of them would lose their jobs.

The job losses mean students will miss out on a wealth of specialist knowledge. A teacher of print making cannot teach sculpture and vice versa. The two teachers and head teacher left will not have, between them, the ability to teach the variety of disciplines contained in the advanced courses.

The quality of the qualification which can be offered in future on a commercial basis will suffer. Teachers in North Sydney Institute are concerned that they and their courses are now being set up to fail, and this will then justify the total deletion of all visual arts courses across the Institute.

The college at Meadowbank has significant difficulties for students with disabilities. In the past teachers at Meadowbank have referred students with disabilities to similar courses at Hornsby.

In late 2012 TAFE NSW was told by the O’Farrell Government that all visual arts courses had to become commercial courses, run on a full cost recovery basis. That includes courses having to pay for the hire of existing technical and studio facilities in the colleges — specialist facilities that would otherwise stand empty.