The NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled policy will take local TAFE colleges down the same disastrous path as TAFE in other states, a Maitland community has heard.
“The impact of the implementation of Smart and Skilled on the local Maitland community will be consistent with what we’ve seen in Victoria and South Australia where the same reforms have been rolled out completely in that there will be job losses plus campus and course closures,” Australian Education Union Federal Secretary Pat Forward said.
Ms Forward said the Smart and Skilled changes to TAFE would mean increased student fees and debt, job losses, courses cuts and potential campus closures.
Where courses are too expensive to run TAFE colleges will be forced to cancel them. Courses that were previously subsidised by the government will be offered as full fee for service. Students will be forced into debt to afford their education or to miss out altogether. The result of these massive increases in student fees will be to make TAFE unaffordable for many students, as we have seen in the commercialisation of TAFE art courses in 2013.
Ms Forward outlined that across Australia thousands of TAFE teachers had already lost their jobs.
The real concern for supporters of public education is that the privatisation of TAFE will force a drive for profit over education. All communities will lose because TAFE will not be funded to supply quality education, just training for those who can afford to pay.