Local TAFEs could die a “slow death” should the federal government not renew its commitment to funding vocational education training.
Federal Chifley MP Ed Husic on Friday said the Turnbull Government could cut $500 million from TAFE when the federal budget was passed down on May 3.
That “kick in the guts” could leave institutions like Mount Druitt’s TAFE in serious trouble, he said, with $165 million in cuts to come in NSW alone.
“The impact of Malcolm Turnbull ripping more money out of our local TAFE and training providers will be higher fees, fewer course options and less industry experience,” Mr Husic said.
The government’s commitment to the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) for TAFE expires on June 30, and the Labor opposition claim there is no replacement outlined in the initial budget papers.
State Mount Druitt MP Edmond Atalla said the Liberal Party had “no idea” how to fund education and feared students would not cope with added fees.
“This will be a disaster, particulary in Mount Druitt where we rely on TAFE as education for our trades more than any other educational institute,” he said.
But federal Assistant Education Minister Karen Andrews told Fairfax Media the government had committed $1.5 billion per year to states and territories for vocational education training outside the NPA.
“As a result of Labor’s NPA, TAFEs have seen a significant decline in enrolment, from 60 per cent to less than 50 per cent of total VET enrolments,” Ms Andrews said.
“The Turnbull Government...is not cutting funding to TAFE.”
NSW Teachers Federation TAFE president Annette Bennett said teachers were worried about the potential cuts.
“It’s very distressing for students too,” she said. “They will have to stump up for thousands of dollars.”
NSW Teachers Federation representative Rob Long said 125,000 students left NSW TAFEs when fees were increased in 2015.
“Or reduce the amount of time students get with teachers and reduce the ability of students to get to local colleges by taking stuff away and centralising it,” he said.
Mr Husic said he was “almost certain” the cuts would come.
“My concern would be that by reducing the funding, you basically bleed the TAFE over time,” he said. “I don’t think that if they don’t renew it, it would be the death of the TAFE straight away, but it would be a slow death.”