College's cash contest
Tuesday, 29th January, 2013
By Andrew Robertson
Changes to education funding in 2014 will challenge Robinson College, according to its former chairman, Bob Algate, who resigned from the position last week.
The community college receives most of its funding from the NSW Department of Education and Training to deliver vocational educational and training programs.
The government announced its socalled "Smart and Skilled" reforms in October last year in response to a COAG agreement on vocational education and training.
Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said the reforms would give people more choice and make the training system more responsive to business and industry.
But Mr Algate, who resigned as chairman on Thursday after six years in the position, said the reforms would result in "a lot more people vying for the same amount of money".
Unions have said they will lead to job cuts within TAFE, the State's largest skills training provider, and reduce the number of courses offered and increase the fees of others.
"It's going to be more difficult to access funding we've had in the past and, quite possibly, we'll get less funding," Mr Algate said.
"It was the view of the (former College manager) Steve Baker that it was going to be more difficult to secure the same level of funding in 2013 than 2012."
Another issue facing the college was the building it occupies.
Charles Sturt University owns the building on the Wentworth Road but there is no formal lease agreement in place, which Mr Algate said was unacceptable.
"We've had ongoing problems with security of tenure," he said.
"Until we get something in concrete, in writing from Charles Sturt University, the security of tenure is always going to be hanging over our heads."
Mr Algate, who is also a city councillor, said now more than ever the college needed dedicated committee members who could help steer the college.
He said he could no longer make that commitment.
"Because of Council commitments and personal commitments, and we are away a fair bit, it's going to be a challenging year."
Mr Algate said the college, which turned over $1.1 million last financial year, was in a much stronger position today than when he became chairman.
Five or six years ago the college was "struggling", he said, but it has since increased the number of courses offered along with student hours.
"Our costs have been reduced and we're taking a more commercial approach to how we run the place," Mr Algate said.
"I've been quite happy with what we've done; we've turned the college around."
New committee chairwoman Joyce Williams said she looked forward to "any challenges and new directions for the college".
Ms Williams said she has been on the committee for more than 10 years and held the position of vice chairman for the past two.
"Under the direction of our new manager, Ann Rogers, I believe the college will be looking at a wide range of courses including reintroducing leisure and general interest courses to meet the needs of he community."