Baird government fiddles as TAFE burns

Now that the Federal Election is over, the NSW government is once again pursuing their mission to wreck TAFE.

“The Baird government is not dealing with the fundamental problem facing NSW TAFE which is that vocational education is now unaffordable for many students,” said NSWTeachers Federation Acting President Denis Fitzgerald.

According to the NSW Department of Industry, NSW has lost half its students in the past three years, down from 539,146 students in 2012 to 255,781 in the 3rd quarter of 2015.

“In the same year that this government announced a massive  surplus, they continue their attacks on TAFE and the students and communities that rely on TAFE to build their futures,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

The NSW Teachers Federation is calling on the Baird Government to guarantee recurrent funding for TAFE students from the huge surplus it announced in the Budget. Guaranteed recurrent funding will provide certainty for TAFE students in quality course delivery.

The Minister vowed that in closing down TAFE institutes, TAFE overheads will be reduced and the government would “recycle” assets and let all funds flow back into TAFE but there has been no evidence of increased funding from previous closures or asset sales.

Mr Fitzgerald said the rundown in TAFE had seen the closures and sale of colleges in Crows Nest, Dapto, Petersham, Quirindi and Murwillumbah. There was no evidence that the millions of dollars generated recouped from the sales had been directed to further resourcing TAFE and assisting students.

He said courses had been cut, student fees increased and 5500 teacher jobs had disappeared.

“It’s clear that the contestable funding model of the Baird Government has driven students away from vocational education across NSW,” Mr Fitzgerald said.    

The NSW Teachers Federation will seek an urgent meeting with Minister John Barilaro to discuss the Baird Government’s decision to close down the 10 TAFE institutes.

“We note Minister Barilaro’s pledge that the money will go back into TAFE but there is no guarantee the funding will remain in TAFE,” Mr Fitzgerald said. 

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