Chisholm sidelined

Widespread community preference for a local TAFE collaboration has won out, with GippsTAFE formally announcing its intention to partner with AdvanceTAFE and Federation University Australia, over the suburban-based Chisholm Institute.

The decision to pursue a “new formal partnership” to sustain Gippsland’s education and training was announced late last week, where the findings of independent consultants and executive teams were reviewed in a meeting of the TAFE boards.

The FedUni council has also signalled its support for the partnership with Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall formally advised of the preferred deal.

AdvanceTAFE board chair Scott Rossetti said the partnership with GippsTAFE and FedUni would best serve the needs of the Gippsland community.

“A strong and regionally-focused partnership will increase opportunity and help local students and workers remain in the area while they undertake new qualifications,” Mr Rossetti said.

“This (review) process has been a thorough process to arrive at what we believe is an innovative move for the future.”

GippsTAFE chair John Mitchell said the decision was made after a “thorough evaluation of options”.

“Each partner will bring to the mix unique and complementary strengths, and these will blend well to create better choices for our students at all levels,” Mr Mitchell said.

The Express first reported in late November an alternative push for a TAFE collaboration between GippsTAFE and Chisholm had begun, after the parties entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore joint business model options.

News of the potential Chisholm merger move drew significant opposition from Gippsland-based stakeholders, including the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council and Committee for Wellington.

Latrobe City Council has remained quiet on the issue.

Chisholm chair Stephen Marks said the institute decided to withdraw from the process after evaluating the available options and information.

It is unclear whether the GippsTAFE/Chisholm MOU has been formally abandoned.

AdvanceTAFE spokesperson said the three institutions would be awaiting State Government funding in the preferred model through the TAFE Structural Adjustment Fund.

“There will be significant structural and organisational change in developing the new model and a process from early 2014 will determine the extent of those changes and new structures,” the spokesperson said.