THE NSW Government’s decision to cut $1.7 billion from the education sector and 800 jobs from TAFE has drawn strong criticism from a range of political and educational sectors.
“This is a real blow to the Mid North Coast’s education strategy,” Member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott said.
“Our region has been working hard to lift engagement with education.
“The North Coast TAFE has reported real and welcome increases in student uptake and student outcomes. Our local strategy has been working.
“The NSW Government’s decision, which includes a 9.5 per cent increase in TAFE fees, is now a real threat to that strategy.
“I am livid that the frontline of engaging the genuinely disadvantaged in education is being carved to pieces, and the opportunity to participate is being made even harder.
“The region voted for the National Party in NSW to do better than this, and has every right to be angry.
“TAFE services do the majority of the heavy lifting on higher education opportunities in our region, and they are the frontline of post-school education.
“That the National Party doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care, is extraordinary.
“Where are Leslie Williams, Andrew Stoner, Steve Bromhead and David Gillespie?
“How on earth have the local National Party allowed a National Party Education Minister to get away with these cuts and do such harm to our community?
“As I have said previously, education is the key to the future of our region. I support more funding and better funding models to directly benefit our region. I will fight this decision today and invite the community to join me,” Mr Oakeshott said.
TAFE jobs in our region will go and fees for TAFE students will be increased under the cuts announced by the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, NSW Teachers Federation TAFE Organiser Kathy Nicholson said.
TAFE fees are set to increase by 9.5 per cent for what the Government has referred to as “government supported places”.
“This cut is just the start,” she said.
“Last year the NSW Government ran a consultation called Smart and Skilled across NSW around the future of vocational education and training. The consultation appeared to be about restructuring and privatising the TAFE sector.
“Similar policies have led to 2000 job losses and the closure of rural and regional TAFE colleges in Victoria.
“Now it is clear that in the future people in our community won’t be able to go and do a TAFE course of their choice. Only some courses will be supported by government funding.
“Those the least able to afford TAFE, those eligible for concessions, have had the amount they have to pay increased by nearly 100 per cent, from $53 to $100. This is particularly hard to understand because when the Nationals were in Opposition in 2007 they introduced legislation to freeze TAFE fees. Prior to the election several National Party members including the Minister Adrian Piccoli, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams signed up to ‘Invest in TAFE’. They pledged to back the workers and teachers in TAFE, to make sure their jobs weren’t contracted out, and to govern for the common good and ensure that everyone in NSW had affordable access to a TAFE education. It’s time for our electorate to remind them of their promise.”
The O’Farrell government’s plan to balance the budget by cutting 1800 jobs from the public education system is short-sighted, mean and dangerous, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
“TAFE students are being asked to pay more in order to receive less,” Dr Kaye said.
“There is no more fat in the system and these cuts will have direct educational consequences.”