NSW Labor to rescue TAFE as students hit with prohibitive TAFE fees

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Thousands of students returning to TAFE this week will receive a nasty surprise – with many students facing massive increases to course fees from changes by the Liberal Government.

Labor leader Luke Foley, Shadow Education Minister Ryan Park and Labor Candidate for East Hills Cameron Murphy today released Labor’s $100 million TAFE Rescue Plan with students and teachers outside Padstow TAFE.

Within one term, a Labor Government will:
• Abolish the Liberal’s ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program;
• Reverse the Baird Government’s TAFE fee hikes;
• Guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and
• Commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.

“Equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of the future is an urgent challenge for NSW – especially in an era of rapid technological change,” Mr Foley said.

“TAFE is a key resource for people seeking a technical or vocational qualification, and for those looking to complete high school or re-train.

“We need to grow smart jobs and opportunities throughout the state – but we can’t do that without a strong, well-funded TAFE system.”

Since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses and slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars.

In 2015, fees have risen significantly, with 40% of students being slugged an extra $500 to $1500 for courses.

Under the Liberals, course fees have skyrocketed in 2015, including:

COURSE

LOCATION

2014 FEE

2015 FEE

Certificate III Aged Care

Ultimo

$419 over 6 months

  • $1,440 if 1st qualification or trainee
  • $1,730 (if previously completed up to a  certificate III)
  • $6,100 (if previously completed a certificate IV or above)

Certificate III in Early Childhood

Miller

$419 over 6 months

  • $1590 for first qualification or trainee
  • $1910 for second qualification up to certificate III
  • $6540 (if previously completed a certificate IV)

Certificate III in Agriculture

Goulburn

$838 over 1 year

  • $2170 for first qualification or trainee
  • $2600 for second qualification
  • $8850 (if student holds a certificate IV)

“The challenge of giving our young people the skills for the jobs of the future is not being addressed by the Baird Liberal Government,” Mr Foley said.

“Instead, the Liberals are taking us backwards and ripping the heart out of the TAFE system in NSW.

“Quality education and training is the key to a better job, a better career and a better life – that’s why Labor is committed to investing in skills and training.

“A Labor Government will invest an additional $100 million to help make TAFE affordable and accessible for everyone in NSW by winding back the privatisation of TAFE and stopping the course cuts and fee hikes.

“The funding will also allow TAFE institutes to reinstate vital courses which have been cut, and restore support services for students.

“We can’t undo the Liberals’ mess overnight, but we will bring back affordable fees in the first term of a Foley Government, and make TAFE a world leader in providing vocational education and training.

“Most importantly, Labor will undertake a landmark review to find new solutions so our education and training system best fits the needs of our young people leaving school.”

Shadow Education Minister Ryan Park said: “Every day we depend in some way on the services and support of someone who has vocational qualifications – whether it is the plumber who fixes a leak, the hairdresser who cuts our hair, or the mechanic who fixes our car.”

“That’s why it’s important to have a strong TAFE system. But already we know many people have been forced to take hefty loans to pay to complete their courses – and some people won’t be going back to TAFE at all.

“Labor will reverse these fee increases and ensure the TAFE is well-funded by limiting the portion of public funding that can be contested by the private sector.

“The private sector has a role to play and we value high quality providers and the contribution they make to the sector. But we will not allow TAFE to be destroyed by diverting funding to large companies and corporations who are profit driven.”

Key Points:

  • Equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of the future is an urgent challenge for NSW. We need a strong TAFE system to train our young people, to prepare them for fulfilling jobs. 
  • Since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses, slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. 
  • These impacts to TAFE are a result of the ‘Smart and Skilled’ program of market-based vocational education and training where TAFE must compete for students and funding with private providers.
  • Within the first term of government, Labor will abolish the ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program, reverse the Liberals’ TAFE fee hikes, guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.

Read more about Labor's TAFE Rescue Package.