A petition of 570 signatures collected by Uniting Church members was tabled in the Victorian Parliament. The petition calls for the Parliamentary Education and Training Joint Investigatory Committee to conduct an inquiry into the impacts of the changes to TAFE funding. The inquiry was asked to specifically investigate the impact on access to education for disadvantaged youth and employment outcomes as a result of the changes.
The petition was in response to TAFE in Victoria suffering a $290 million cut in the May 2012 State Budget. The cuts amounted to 40 per cent of TAFE institutes’ operating budget. The government abolished “full-service provider” funding, which helps TAFE institutes provide libraries, computers, learning support, counselling and other student support.
“It is these sorts of services that allow TAFE to provide pathways to disadvantaged and low income students into further education, jobs or simply back into society. These include people with poor educational experience in the past, workers made redundant, migrants, refugees and people with disabilities,” Dr Mark Zirnsak, director of the synod Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit said.
“We fear the decision will lead to thousands of job losses, campus and course closures and significant fee rises for students. We also are concerned this is an attempt to eventually privatise the TAFEs.”
At the same time the Victorian Government has budgeted to spend almost $5 billion in training subsidies in the next four years, largely to private training providers. More than 360,000 students accessed the 18 Victorian TAFEs in 2012.