TAFE sector Privatisation by stealth - funding slashed by Baillieu Government in Victorian Budget

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on May Day, attacked Premier Ted Baillieu and the Victorian Government over its budget cuts to TAFE education announced in the Victorian budget today, calling them another significant step in the dismantling of the state’s public vocational education and training system and privatising the sector by stealth. The cuts to the public TAFE institutions reduce public funding by 22 per cent from the start of 2013.

Related: Tafe4all: Baillieu takes the axe to TAFE

This level of base funding cut will result in cuts to educational programs and staff across all the state's public TAFE institutions which provide a huge variety of foundational and vocational education and training from Certificate I to Advanced Diploma levels.

“This is a massive funding cut,” said Dr Colin Long, NTEU Victorian Division Secretary. “It will definitely result in further job losses, reduced course offerings, and the closure of some TAFE facilities.”

“Overall, the impact it will have the quality of TAFE education and training in Victoria will be severe. I am aware of at least two TAFE institutions that have put their staff on notice about the serious consequences of these cuts for their financial bottom line.”

Dual sector institutions like RMIT, Victoria University and University of Ballarat will also be impacted. “It’s also going to make life even harder for dual sector institutions, like Victoria University which is already struggling and this week announced a major restructure to cope with cuts to public funding and increased competition from private providers.” said Dr Colin Long.

Wage rises for TAFE sector employees have also been held up with enterprise agreements worked out between education unions and TAFE institutes being purposely delayed by the State Government. (see Kangan TAFE staff frustrated at pay delay)

TAFE sector Privatisation by stealth

“If the Victorian Government announced it was going to privatise a major public asset it would be greeted with fierce public debate. But because no one has called this a privatization it’s been allowed to happen with a minimum of opposition.” Colin Long said.

“A significant public education infrastructure and public asset that has taken generations to build is being dismantled before the public’s eyes to provide opportunities for cut rate private providers that are not properly regulated.” accused Dr Long.

“TAFE provides education opportunities and support for some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged students, such as libraries, counseling services and learning support.” He said.

According to pre budget information from the NTEU Victorian Division:

  • Funding rates slashed for many courses. Rates will be cut to less than $2 per student contact hour for some courses ranging from Certificate I to Diploma, in fields including business, hospitality, retail, customer contact, process manufacturing, events, fitness and sport. Current SCH funding rates are between $6.50–$10 per hour.
  • TAFE differential funding cut. TAFE institutes receive a higher level of state funding to allow them to offer a full range of services to vocational education and training students, including libraries, counselling services and learning support. Last October this funding was cut by a quarter for eight large metropolitan TAFEs — a cut of $40 million which resulted in job losses. Differential funding rapped scentirely for all 18 institutes from January 2013. This is effectively a cut of up to 22% in base funding to TAFE.
  • Boost to finding private Registered Training organisations (RTOs) in some skills shortage subjects. Funding will be increased by $1 per hour for TAFE but by $2.50 for private providers.
  • New 5% loading for regional TAFE and private providers. This is still a lower level of funding to regional TAFEs than previosly.

The Brumby Labor Government initiated 'skills reform' in the TAFE sector which resulted in reduced funding, increased course fee structure, and resulted in staff restructures with less permanent teaching staff and more sessional and casual staff.

Dr Long said “Both political parties share the responsibility for this situation.”

Photo Credit: Takver - Mayday - 125 jobs lost daily in Victoria - used under CC license