Merger plans fall through

GIPPSLAND TAFE institution Federation Training will keep its name, despite plans to no longer merge with Federation University Gippsland.

The two Gippsland tertiary institutions wrote to Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert requesting the dual-sector education model, with FedTraining set to act as the technical arm of the university in January 2016, to not proceed.

“The decision lies with the Minister. We have written to him considering a joint recommendation it not be processed,” FedTraining chief executive Wendy Wood said.

She said the new Labor Government was sceptical of the proposed merger plan based on the fact the two institutions had already struck a strategic alliance. This includes what she calls “articulation” with FedTraining courses leading to FedUni degrees.

“FedUni and FedTraining joint management teams for over a year have come to the belief that we could achieve all we need to achieve, but stay as standalone facilities,” Ms Wood said.

FedTraining and FedUni were to merge in 2016, receiving $40 million under the former Liberal State Government’s TAFE Structural Adjustment Fund in April last year.

At this time FedTraining was also created in a merger of two loss-making Gippsland TAFE institutions – GippsTAFE and AdvanceTAFE.

FedUni deputy vice chancellor Andy Smith said it was a joint decision by both institutions, which felt that a strategic alliance was more appropriate than a merger.

“We do not expect that this decision will impact on FedUni programs, finances or staff,” Dr Smith said.

Mr Herbert said with renewed support from government, FedTraining was undertaking the task of rebuilding the institute to deliver new training opportunities to students.

“The Labor Government believes the institute has the capacity to stand-alone and once again be a proud, productive TAFE working to support economic growth in Gippsland,” he said.