Dark Days for TAFE

First job cuts in the newspaper industry, now writing courses are being cut as well.

In a further blow to the writing community, last week it was announced that the Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing would be cut from the list of courses on offer at Holmesglen TAFE, following months of upheaval within the TAFE sector.

Having only just graduated with my Diploma from Holmesglen last year, I was saddened by this grim news. While I’m relieved I got to finish my studies before the budget cuts, the thought that the course no longer exists for aspiring writers to come is such a shame. I loved my time at Holmesglen – I made some great friends, and the course opened my eyes to so many things within the industry, opening doors to many great opportunities and learning experiences. It was also a privilege to have been taught by such wonderful teachers, each of whom influencing the way that I write greatly, and had invaluable experience to offer.

With the course also facing staff cuts, it looks as though only 3 of the 12 of these mentors will get to keep their jobs. Nobody is safe.

The government does not consider Professional Writing & Editing to be part of the Skills Shortage list, therefore cut its funding.

The drawcard of TAFE for many students, myself included, was that education offered was much more affordable, and therefore more accessible, than going to university and having to pay HECS fees. Starting at TAFE also acted as a stepping stone or back-door into uni for many.

In 2009, however, the Baillieu Government made the decision to support private, for-profit businesses to provide education and training in competition to TAFE. This saw the Government cut $40 million of TAFE funding, and introduced reforms which saw TAFE fees triple for many courses. The reforms also meant that those with pre-existing qualifications would be made to pay the full fee (up to $20,000).

Where ‘private, for-profit sector is involved in education and training just to make money’, says Greg Barclay on the Tafe4All website,TAFE has been here to make a future for individuals and Victoria.’

Holmesglen has been one of the biggest TAFEs hit, with $25.5 million cut from its budget just this year. These ‘unprecedented’ cuts, says Holmesglen chief executive Bruce Mackenzie, have meant that Holmesglen has had to double its fees for diploma courses, and offer redundancies to staff in order to avoid closure. (The Age)

‘Holmesglen is the one of most innovative and successful TAFEs in the state, if not the country,” Shadow Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Steven Herbert said in May.

‘If it is struggling to cope with these cuts, how can smaller TAFEs expect to survive?

‘Already TAFEs across the state are weighing up whether they need to cut courses or sack staff, and the Minister himself couldn’t rule out campus closures. This should be a clear signal that these cuts go too far and are threatening the viability of many providers.’

Mr Herbert said the Baillieu Government would be held responsible if any TAFEs closed their doors.

Let’s hope that the Government comes to its senses, and listens to the community’s outrage. Shouldn’t education be easily accessible for all? And isn’t it more important, now than ever before, that writers have opportunities to further their skills in an ever-changing environment?

The day writing courses cease to exist altogether will be a sad day.

Read more, or voice your opinions, at http://www.tafe4all.org.au/moreinfo.html

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