New voices question the concept of student choice
New voices are emerging in the national debate about the direction of VET and the future of TAFE, and these voices provide some hope for those people who have been concerned over the last four to five years about the simplistic arguments used by the supporters of “market design”.
In the last few weeks, there were several stories in the mainstream media which shone a light on the debacle unfolding in the TAFE system in Australia. The Australian ran a story called “Graphic illustration of fee madness” about the escalation of fees for higher level qualifications in TAFE in the ACT - $27,000 for an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design. It also ran a story about “providers” – public and private - “gaming” the VET system in Victoria by inflating study loads in order to increase government funding.
This issue came to light recently when my son received a notice from CIT advising him that his debt from semester one of the Diploma of Graphic Design course was $7,128. This prompted a detailed investigation of the fees, and comparison with other course providers.
Today, in my role as a Social Worker I needed to liaise with the head of department at one of our major TAFEs regarding a student who was having a lot of difficulty.
The Federal Government and incoming Minister Brendan O’Connor need to decide what to do with Commonwealth VET Partnership funding for NSW and Victoria. Twelve months ago, then Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans took a stand against recalcitrant state governments to stop them cutting funding to TAFE institutes, and refused to pass on Partnership funding. What is at stake is more than $560M of Commonwealth funding to NSW over the next five years, and more than $430M to Victoria.
As a representative of the people of Queensland and current minister in the Queensland government I call on you to justify the actions of your department in attempting to negotiate working conditions that devalue the professional status of my role as a teacher.