Increase funding to TAFE, not more student loans
As the unfolding funding catastrophe in TAFE and vocational education was revealed again this week, it has elicited calls from those who have been at the forefront of the introduction of Income Contingent Loans into the sector to further expand them to lower level VET qualifications. As the magnitude of this disaster unfolds, it makes no sense that those at the forefront of the creation of a VET market espouse a further shift of funding responsibility for the sector onto individual students.
A proposed Federal Government takeover of Vocational Education and Training which would see TAFEs privatised and fees for students raised is scheduled for discussion at the COAG meeting today.
Mike Baird is the first NSW Premier to record a budget surplus of $2.1 billion and already has a legacy of destroying TAFE in favor of supporting private providers who are running to bank depositing tax payers Federal Government VET FEE Help monies.
A Commonwealth takeover of vocational education in Australia would see the ultimate triumph of the privatization agenda, and the destruction of the public TAFE system.
The announcement by the ALP that it intends to "rebalance" the VET market by allocating guaranteed funding to TAFE is a small but significant step back from the brink for Australian TAFE colleges. When combined with the proposal that an ALP government would develop a national statement collaboratively with the states and territories to define and support TAFE, it is clear that we are witnessing a turn in the tide of TAFEs fortunes. But the battle is not over, and TAFE has not yet been saved.
As we gear up to celebrate National TAFE Day for 2015, it is important to remind ourselves of the year that has passed – and the importance of TAFE to the Australian community.