Federation is concerned rural and regional TAFE institutes in NSW may be forced to amalgamate following the implementation of the O’Farrell Government’s Smart and Skilled privatisation policy in January 2015.
Privatisation agendas in other states have led to regional and rural TAFE institutes merging, amalgamating or partnering (see below).
Under the Smart and Skilled policy all vocational education and training funds will be subject to competitive tender — non-TAFE registered training organisations will be able to compete for funds that traditionally went to the TAFE system.
The State Government has not yet disclosed any regional amalgamations, but already courses have been cut, and student fees and debt have increased.
Permanent and part time casual teachers have lost some or all of their work. More than 500 positions have lost their jobs.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli must be kept to account to ensure all students in rural and regional areas have equitable access to quality TAFE education.
Federation will continue to campaign for recurrent funding to ensure the viability of regional and rural NSW TAFE.
It's happened interstate
South Australia’s privatisation policy has led to the amalgamation of three TAFE institutes (covering rural, regional and metropolitan TAFEs) into a single entity. The policy has also resulted in 150 redundancies for South Australian TAFE teachers and faculty managers.
In Victoria regional TAFE and multi-sector institutes are being forced to rationalise. Regional institutes Gipps TAFE, Advance TAFE and Ballarat University are negotiating an amalgamation. Hundreds of courses have been dropped and more than 2000 jobs have been lost in the past year.
The proposed amalgamation of Southern Queensland and Bremer Institutes of TAFE will result in an Institute with a geographical footprint about a third of the state. Central Queensland Institute of TAFE and Central Queensland University have already merged. By July 2013 almost 350 staff across Queensland had accepted redundancy packages.