TAFE under threat from more privatisation and HECS fees: Saffin

TAFE campuses remain under threat from more privatisation and the introduction of Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) fees for traditional trade courses, according to State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin.


TAFE campuses remain under threat from more privatisation and the introduction of Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) fees for traditional trade courses, according to State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin.

Ms Saffin this week in Parliament outlined that the Nationals and Liberals had decimated TAFE by slowly cutting the highly valued public education institution to the bone, shedding more than 5000 staff and with 175,000 fewer students

Ms Saffin said the situation was so dire that she now had local tradies contacting her about being unable to complete their plumbing courses.

She cited a letter she had received from a Lismore man in his early 20s who had recently finished his plumbing apprenticeship and had been trying to further his study to become a licensed contractor for over 12 months.

“He has been unable to do so because his local TAFE is not running the course. That person is not the only one; I have letters from a few plumbers,” Ms Saffin said.

“One said that they have been told there are not enough students to run the course. My inquiries tell me there are. They (the tradies) are complaining to me. Do MPs know what they were told to do? They were told to go to Coffs Harbour.

“They were told to drive 2½ hours three days a week for a 14-week block, and to take time out of their jobs. How can they do that? It is impossible.”

Ms Saffin said the fact that TAFE had had four managing directors over the 12 months of 2018-19 ‘said it all’, and suggested that the $6 million the Government had spent on consultancy fees would be better spent on not introducing HECs fees for the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

“They call themselves smart and skilled, but TAFE NSW’s website this morning (Thursday, February 27) listed TAFE NSW Lismore as being located in the city centre in the heart of the Richmond Valley. How smart is that?” Ms Saffin said.

“I could no let that pass, but there are bigger concerns than that one, such as the way the Government treats TAFE as a private VET, as it does the higher education providers.

“All else flows from that. TAFE should be to the VET sector, to education and to the workforce what Medicare is to the health sector – the actual core.”

Ms Saffin supported NSW Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE Jihad Dib’s call for the Government to follow the Opposition’s lead and commit to rebuilding TAFE.


Friday, February 28, 2020.

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