The recent state budget cuts to Victoria’s TAFE sector is not all “doom and gloom”, according to Victorian Skills Minister Peter Hall.
However, reassurances from the minister Gippsland students will continue to thrive as a result of the region’s “strong alliance partnerships” have done little to comfort local TAFE providers.
Gippsland Central Institute of TAFE, which is currently bracing itself for revenue losses of about $10 million, stands to lose a minimum of 20 per cent of its staff in the short-term as a result of the budget cuts.
However, Mr Hall said he failed to comprehend how the institute came to such a drastic conclusion, adding while there would be “a change in profile” in the TAFE sector, he would continue to work with TAFE institutes to ensure it was a “viable enterprise”.
“I am not denying there will be a change in profile… so I can understand how people are concerned,” Mr Hall said.
“I think there will be some losses but some gains as well.
“Gippsland is well focused for this repositioning… as a result of the Regional Tertiary Education Plan.
“That plan calls on the four (major Gippsland education) providers to work together to deliver competitive programs and that is the direction we will see taking.”
However, GippsTAFE chief executive Peter Whitley refuted the minister’s views Gippsland was “well positioned”, adding the impacts of the budget cuts would hamper the institute’s partnerships with other providers, including Monash University Gippsland.
“The way the State Government has chosen to subsidise some diplomas makes it no longer viable,” Mr Whitley said.
“So the pathways (the State Government) are busy trying to establish won’t be in place.
“There are countless occasions where we have worked with Monash University (Gippsland) to establish pathways but that’s going to be affected.”
Mr Whitley said his recent discussion with private TAFE providers found those institutes would also find it difficult to run some courses as a result of the heavy decline in government subsidies.
“Private institutes are just not prepared to take on that shortfall,” he said.
“The real question is what is the value of education?
“(The government) is quite prepared to accept education for skills training yet they are not prepared to support that.
“As all of these courses shut down because they are no longer viable, it will cut off opportunities for study for many people in our community.”