BY LUCAS BAIRD
TAFE has denied claims that it is currently in decline, claiming that it is business as usual.
Recently TAFE has been the subject of political debate, with a decline in enrolments leading many to claim the institution’s days are numbered, unless the government can change fees and funding for the vocational education provider.
Speaking to City Hub, a TAFE NSW spokesperson said that enrolments in local branches were “strong” and that TAFE is here to stay.
“Enrolments for Ultimo college were strong in 2015 and already we are seeing very strong interest for courses at Ultimo for 2016,” the spokesperson told City Hub.
“For example, electrotechnical engineering received more than 1,500 enrolments in 2015.”
“TAFE NSW is and will remain the Vocational Education and Training of choice, with almost half a million enrolments in 2015,” they said.
This contradicts statements made by Greens MP John Kaye in response to the Upper House inquiry into vocational training and education in NSW.
He said the private institutions which had flooded the vocational educational market had meant that without more government support, TAFE’s days were numbered.
“Unless the Baird government acts now to protect TAFE from unlimited competition with profit-focused private providers, it faces a limited future,” Dr Kaye said.
“Each year more public funding is stripped from TAFE and put into the competitive market, where TAFE has to face up to low-cost, low-integrity private providers to survive,” he stated.
However, last year’s NSW budget allocated $2 billion to TAFE in 2015-16, which is an increase of over five per cent in funding.
Despite all this, City Hub understands that there is still concern inside of TAFE surrounding the input of IPART who, according to TAFE, set the fees.
This concern was raised in the Legislative Council inquiry, which recommended that the NSW government require IPART to revise its market price testing method.
But IPART told City Hub that it does not set the fees, but conducted a review in 2013 to determine fees of government funded vocational training including TAFE.
It explained that not all of this advice was adopted by the government.
An IPART spokesperson also denied that there would be any changes to this review or a new review despite the inquiry’s recommendation
“The IPART Review was completed in 2013 and we have not been asked to undertake a further review at this time,” the spokesperson told City Hub.