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TAFE fees ‘to double’

Tuesday, 1st January, 2013

By Erica Visser

Local TAFE students may face an uncertain start to the new year as course fees are dramatically raised and some courses culled.

A number of State Government changes to TAFE came into effect yesterday, which the Teachers Federation claimed would result in hundreds of jobs losses and course cuts.

Locally, there remained uncertainty over whether a vacant local TAFE manager position would be filled after former manager, Tuana Saunders, left last month.

The Federal Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Chris Evans, warned on Monday that the coming year would be “unhappy” for TAFE students in NSW.

“People wanting to study at TAFE in 2013 have a right to know if their local campus will be open, if their course will continue and how much they’ll be forced to pay,” Senator Evans said.

“The aspirations and plans of thousands of people have been put on hold while Liberal state governments, with the support of Tony Abbott, make short-sighted cuts to the nation’s TAFE system.

“It makes no sense to slash the investment in skills and training when we have employers crying out for skilled workers across the economy.”

Local TAFE representative for the union, Jim Nolan, said that he expected a significant decrease in enrolments for 2013.

“On average, course related charges have increased from $210 on average per year to $480 per year,” Mr Nolan said.

“When you add the concession fee, which is going from $53 to $100, you’re paying $580 per year.

“The increases are placing a considerable burden on students, students on Centrelink benefits will now have to pay almost double and less will be able to afford course related fees.”

Mr Nolan said that there had not been a “substantial reaction” over the cuts from local TAFE students yet, as many would be unaware of the extent of the changes until applications were made late this month.

“Quite frankly most students would not be aware of these things until they enrol at the end of January or beginning of February.”

Mr Nolan said that the education overhaul, which accompanies $1.7 billion cuts to public education, was the biggest hurdle to face TAFE in more than two decades.

“In the recent history of TAFE NSW, since the introduction of fees in 1990, there has never been this sort of increase in fees,” he said.

“Concession fees have sometimes increased by a few dollars but when they almost double and, some courses related charges, more than double, this can create a real barrier for young people wanting pre-employment training in the trades areas.”

However, Mr Nolan said that fortunately, NSW TAFE fees were still significantly less than that of its South Australian and Victorian counterparts.

“Under the Smart and Skilled model which will commence in 2014 there will still be a fee structure however it will be set according to people’s financial circumstances and whether it is a first, second or third course,” he said.

“In South Australia, the price in 2012 for a diploma course was $4000 per year with a one off concession fee currently $2200.

“Course related charges are an additional $760.

“Concessions in NSW have never been that high and it’s not intended that they will ever rise to that level.”

All mainstream arts classes will be discontinued in Broken Hill from 2013 and it is not known what additional classes would be cut in 2014.

TAFE has defended the cuts, stating that they would provide greater flexibility for students whilst saving money.

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