$200m for TAFEs ‘won’t lower fees’

VICTORIA University hopes it will be given a share of the $200 million in funding the state government is returning to TAFEs.

The government cut $290 million from TAFE funding last year, causing Victoria University to scrap about 80 courses, slash 100 jobs and increase fees.

As reported by the Weekly, VU dropped courses in animal studies and events and tourism from its Werribee campus. Courses in boat building, sports and fitness, hospitality, business and financial services were also axed at other campuses.

Premier Denis Napthine last week announced the government would hand back $200 million over four years to the state’s TAFEs to “support innovation and structural reform”.

Dr Napthine said the funding would ensure the financial viability of TAFEs.

VU deputy vice-chancellor Professor Anne Jones said it was vital Melbourne’s west received a share of the funding.

She said the money would help VU adjust to changes caused by last year’s funding cuts. She was also hopeful the money could be used to develop the university’s community integrated learning hubs in Altona and Sunbury and further plans for a trades academy in Melbourne.

But the Australian Education Union’s Victorian Branch said the $200 million was not enough to reverse the damage caused by the funding withdrawal.

Branch vice-president Greg Barclay estimated VU had lost $32 million in funding last year.

He said a share in $50 million per year over four years would not allow VU to reduce student fees or reinstate teachers who had lost their jobs. “This re-injection of funding will not alleviate the cost of education for students, nor will it see the reinstatement of the 2000 teachers who lost their jobs across the state.”