Why so long?

Why has it taken the Government and the ACCC so long to realise the money that was being ripped out of the system, and the students being taken for a ride?
The ABC reports the consumer watchdog targeting a second private training college, alleging it signed up vulnerable people — some with intellectual disabilities — and citing problems with the Government's VET FEE-HELP system.


Protecting the interests of vulnerable people from unethical RTOs

This excerpt from the latest Commonwealth HELP Newsletter in regard to marketing responsibilities of approved providers, advising that unethical marketing is reportable to ASQA is welcomed by the
TAFE Commuity Alliance

Program Assurance

Providers would be aware that the department monitors the take up of VET FEE-HELP to ensure that the scheme continues to fulfil its intent: i.e. provides access to loans for students who would repay these loans once they enter the labour market and earn over $51,309 per year. As a result, the Department considers data from a number of sources to ensure that loans are made available to people in accordance with the spirit and intent of the scheme. As well, the department receives feedback from students and others relating to misleading and unethical marketing tactics that may have been used by some providers and /or their agents.
While most providers appear to be operating in accordance with the spirit and intent of VET FEE-HELP, it appears that some providers have:
· targeted vulnerable people, including those people who do not have the aptitude, attitude or ability to complete a course;
· targeted people who have retired and left the labour market;
· offered inducements to prospective students to study at their institution, in return for a monetary or other reward;
· made misleading claims about the students’ ability to be employed and earn an income;
· provided misleading information to prospective students about the VET FEE-HELP scheme; and
· included ineligible content, including ‘nesting’ of non-eligible content into Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses.
All providers are reminded that unethical and misleading marketing of courses that comes to the attention of the department may be investigated as part of compliance activities and may be reported to ASQA for further investigation


TAFE cuts force axing of engineering, automotive manufacturing programs

Fairfax Media have seen leaked documents showing cuts are being made in South Western Sydney TAFE including halving teacher numbers and cuts to engineering and automotive manufacturing programs at three colleges next year, are because government funding under a new system will not meet program costs as TAFE is forced to compete with private companies from January next year.
Institute of Automotive Engineers chief executive Peter Blanchard said TAFE training was ''absolutely essential'' and the cuts to engineering courses would have a negative impact on industry. Greens MP John Kaye said: ''The loss of engineering skills at local TAFE colleges will undermine any opportunities for recovery in the manufacturing sector in south-western Sydney.'' Read more

Job scarcity fuels `social disaster'

The Australian Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Tony Nicholson said data released by the organisation today shows the delicate circumstances of Australia's young aged 15 to 24 getting worse. He also reiterated the agency's support for a youth wages scheme and said a decision last week by the Fair Work Commission to pay 20-year-olds at the adult rate was ``not helpful'' in a depressed job market. ``Essentially what the data shows is we in Australia are hurtling toward a social disaster and if nothing changes, if we do nothing, we're going to have unemployment rates as high as 40 per cent in some parts of the country,'' he said. Read more

Re-imagining the campus in the VET sector

Mary Leahy 21 March 2014,   The Conversation 

With technology changing the landscape of higher education, The Conversation is running a series “Re-imagining the Campus” on the future of campus learning. Here, Mary Leahy considers the impact of allowing non-TAFE training organisations access to TAFE facilities for the delivery of training. Read more

TAFE unveils 'mix + match' study

Tim Dodd, 24 March 2014, The Australian Financial Review
Australia's largest TAFE, the Western Sydney Institute (WSI), will introduce unprecedented flexibility into its qualifications, allowing students to start a course at any time and choose how, when and where they will study.
The new system, called "mix + match", will start on April 11. It will allow students in more than 12 different study areas to choose their course units in a similar way to online shopping, which is intended to make enrolment simpler. Read more

Turbulent times on the horizon for TAFE

March 24,2014 Geoff Maslen Sydney Morning Herald
"Something strange is going on in the Parliament of Australia: three federal parliamentary inquiries into Australia's technical and further education system have been established in the past year, two in the past month.
The first was when the then Labor government agreed last March to a Greens request to hold an inquiry by the House of Representatives education committee. Public meetings were held and 173 submissions received before prime minister Kevin Rudd called the federal election and the inquiry ceased."

NSW Parliamentary committee backs TAFE: Are you listening Mr Piccoli?

Greens Media Release, March 26 2014: A NSW parliamentary committee containing a majority of government members has thrown its support behind TAFE describing it as "the backbone" of vocational education and training (VET). The Economic Development Committee released its final report its report into Skills Shortages in NSW this afternoon.

Finding 4 states: "The Committee finds that TAFE NSW is the backbone of vocational education and training in NSW and that to achieve the state's economic and social priorities it is vital that TAFE NSW receives appropriate and adequate funding".

Greens member for Balmain Jamie Parker, who was a member of the committee said: "After hearing the overwhelming evidence, the Economic Development Committee recognised the value of TAFE and its importance to the future of the state's economy and social fabric. The committee looked closely at skills shortages and methods to address them and found that TAFE was a vital piece of the puzzle. However we also recognised that TAFE needs appropriate and adequate funding in order to help the state achieve its economic and social priorities. I challenge those Coalition members of the committee who I worked with on this report to support the Greens bill to save TAFE when I bring it on for debate in the lower house. The Greens bill will secure TAFE's future by putting an end to the budget cuts, student fee increases and Smart and Skilled market. If Smart and Skilled is not stopped, the O'Farrell government will be placing the economic and social priorities of the state at risk," said Mr Parker.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: "The committee found that a strong well-funded TAFE system is vital for the economic and social future of NSW. The O'Farrell government's policy of undermining the public VET provider is now so unpopular that even Coalition MPs are calling for TAFE to be adequately and appropriately funded. Three out of five members of the committee are government MPs. TAFE is being pushed to the brink by their Coalition colleague Education Minister Adrian Piccoli. They need to take action urgently and bring these findings to Mr Piccoli's attention and demand that he fund it accordingly. The committee specifically noted the difficulties experienced for regional communities when TAFE Institutes are forced to trim down and consolidate courses. Forcing students to leave town, travel long distances or stop studying altogether is unacceptable. All regional MPs should take note of the committee's findings or risk condemning their communities to rising unemployment, social displacement and economic disadvantage. Almost 400 positions were removed from TAFE NSW in 2013, according to data obtained by the Greens. Under Smart and Skilled, from January 2015, TAFE will be stripped of the lion's share of its core funding and will be forced into an unwinnable competition with private providers. The course closures, teacher job losses and massive student fee rises are about to get a lot worse. It is time for the O'Farrell government to listen to the advice of its own MPs in the Economic Development Committee and put a halt on the budget cuts and the Smart and Skilled agenda that is threatening to destroy TAFE," said Dr Kaye.

Members of the Economic Development Committee

Chair: Mr David ELLIOTT (Lib, LA Member).
Deputy Chair: Mr Mark COURE (Lib, LA Member).
Mr Christopher GULAPTIS (Nat, LA Member)
Ms Noreen HAY (ALP, LA Member)
Mr Jamie PARKER (The Greens, LA Member)

Repurposing TAFE

One view as to how the VET Reform Taskforce can carry out a positive role for TAFE:

The problems facing the VET sector

"Serious structural problems beset Australia’s skills and training system. Low-quality provision and over-regulation highlight the shortcomings of skills and training delivery in parts of the sector.
The creation of a national training market intensified competition between public and private providers. Marketising VET has placed different incentives and pressures on TAFE institutions and private VET providers. Compliance with national frameworks has been a heavy burden."


Western Sydney and Blue Mountains Rally and forum to Save TAFE

Rally at Mt Druitt
Members of the TAFE Community Alliance were joined by concerned teachers, students and political parties in meetings in Western Sydney on 21 February. The message that TAFE is the number 1 provider of vocational education and training in NSW, and the State Government needs to restore funding to TAFE and to put an end to policies such as ‘Smart and Skilled NSW’ that will cut the number of TAFE courses offered in Western Sydney was supported. 
In Western Sydney, TAFE is valued for its ability to deliver courses which meet the needs of students, including those who are disadvantaged and require additional support. TAFE delivers courses directly in the community, and works with local groups to build the skills and knowledge needed for people of all ages to gain a successful career. TAFE still has the capability to provide student support services including multicultural, counselling, libraries and Outreach, to assist students to succeed. 
TAFE’s record in providing skills for individuals seeking to upgrade or change careers, particularly in new and emerging industries, is well known. It is these quality educational provisions that the short- sighted cuts by the O’Farrell government and the proposed changes of ‘Smart and Skilled’ NSW, put in jeopardy. The Alliance welcomes the Greens ‘TAFE Changes Moratorium’ Bill and urges all members of the State Government to support the Bill and their local TAFE colleges. 
Mary Waterford from the Western Sydney Community Forum, spoke for the TAFE Community Alliance recounting stories of people who had overcome complex barriers through TAFE and gone on to enrich communities. She said “TAFE plays a vital role in second chance education and the Blue Mountains is the richer for the many people who have benefited from our local College’s excellent teachers and facilities. We must not allow these resources to be eroded – it makes no economic sense long term.”

Rally Against TAFE Cuts in Orange

"The former Orange councillor and Greens education spokesman John Kaye launched Dr Kaye’s bill to freeze all budget cuts and restore TAFE funding to 2011 levels at the TAFE Western Orange campus yesterday."... Read more



THE chant "Fund TAFE art" was shouted from TAFE NSW Hunter Institute yesterday as students, teachers and politicians protested government cuts.
Over the past 12 months 55 jobs have been lost from the institute.
TAFE Community Alliance representative Kevin Heys led the rally and said students' were suffering from fee increases and the Smart and Skilled NSW reforms to be introduced. Read more.... 


Industry Minister Macfarlane says skills and training system needs urgent repair

What did the Federal Minister have to say about the skills and training system?  The TAFE Community Alliance suggests that the answer is quite clear about the need to properly fund and support TAFE, rather than continuing to undermine it. 

Industry Minister Macfarlane says skills and training system needs urgent repair

The Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane says that skills and training needs significant reform and better targeted spending to fix serious structural problems.
Speaking on ABC Radio National Breakfast last week, the Minister described the skills and training system as a “convoluted mess” left by the former government.
Planned reforms were needed “so that we are actually producing skilled people who are literate and numerate” and able to make a productive contribution to the workforce.
The Minister hosed down any suggestion that the upcoming budget would see increased funds for areas such as training, TAFE or apprenticeships, saying there will be “efficient use of the money that’s there”.
“I can guarantee that the skills training that will be offered will be of a higher calibre and will present workers that are better ready, better work-ready, than we have seen in the past,” the Minister said.
“The reality is that we have inherited a system in the skills and training area which is so close to broken, that we have regular meetings now with people who say, ‘for God’s sake just fix this – it is so complicated, it is so heavily regulated, it is so over-audited we’re not getting the results that we need to get’.”
Hear the Minister’s interview.


Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training

The NSW Greens launched their TAFE Changes Moratorium (Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training) Bill on 12 November at Parliament House.  The TAFE Community Alliance addressed the quite large group, along with John Kaye Greens MP, Maurie Mulheron from the Teachers Federation and Anne Gardiner from the PSA.  
The Bill sets out to maintain TAFE as the principal provider of VET, to restore funding per student hour to a minimum of 2010/11 levels, and to freeze TAFE fees also at 2010/11 levels.  
We are all urged to visit our local MPs and to urge their support for the Bill.
Linda Simons presentation for TCA


Save TAFE Greens Bill (Launch Nov 12)

The Greens Bill aims to:

  •  restore TAFE funding by reversing massive budget cuts, 
  • stop rising fees and job losses, and 
  •  freeze the O'Farrell government's aggressive Smart and Skilled market that would create a race to the bottom with low cost, low quality private providers. 
State and federal Labor and Coalition governments have driven TAFE to the brink of collapse, despite the massive economic and social benefits of publicly provided vocational education and training. It’s time to take a stand for TAFE and for a fairer society, a healthier economy, a vibrant community and a skilled workforce. Read more about this important Bill

Education: Another Brick in the Wall.

As part of its Vulture Capitalism month, the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville conducted an education panel. It was titled 'Another Brick in the Wall, and discussed the impact of Neo-Liberal market philosophies on education today.  The panel represented the three education sectors, TAFE, schools and universities.  The speakers were: TAFE Community Alliance - Linda Simon, Schools: Activist Teachers Network - Andrew Viller, Higher Education - NTEU - Nick Reimer.  The impact was felt differently in each sector, but there were also many similarities. In schools, the corporatisation is apparent, with schools taking on corporate identities, such as Optus funding professional development.  The use of testing, such as Naplan, to rank students and schools was also highlighted resulting from a market driven model of education.  The case study of the industrial action at Sydney University was used to highlight what is happening in Higher Education, with moves to drive down working conditions, undermine academic autonomy and put not just universities but academics in the position of competing against each other. Linda's speech to the forum is included on the website, where she highlighted the marketisation and privatisation of the VET sector, with current government proposals under Smart and Skilled NSW, undermining TAFE's role in quality VET.  Cuts to funding will continue to undermine TAFE's ability to maintain standards and students will be seduced into undertaking qualifications through providers that may not give them the knowledge and skills they need. The Addison Rd Community Centre plans to run another education forum.  Keep a look out, as the discussion was great.

From Master's to PhD, via TAFE

  • From:
  • The Australian 
    Shingi Chando a Zimbabwean born nursing student, plans to leap straight from a diploma to a PhD. She won the top student award at Sydney TAFE. She says her teachers at Sydney Institute, Australia’s oldest and largest TAFE, are highly regarded in the nursing industry. “I found this encouraging when I started my practical training at Westmead Hospital,” she says. 
    Shingi Chando demonstrates one of the many and varied roles of TAFE. She is the first international student to win the award. She came to Australia last year after a six-year stint as a nursing researcher in Dallas Texas, during which she obtained a master’s degree in public health. Read more

    Jude Pearce Tells of Her Way Forward With TAFE

    The Rod Brooks Memorial Education Forum at Katoomba Politics in the Pub with the Blue Mountains Union Council heard Jude's story in her own words.

    Illawarra Forum May 21

    Speakers at the TAFE Community Alliance Illawarra Region Forum on May 21 discussed how the state government’s funding cuts and new funding model will affect TAFE provision in NSW, what our communities stand to lose and how we can maintain TAFE as the major public Vocational Education and Training (VET) provider. Speakers included Arthur Rorris Secretary South Coast Labour Council, Sharon Bird Minister for Higher Education and Skills
    Member for Cunningham, Gordon Bradbery Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Jozefa Sobski
    Former TAFE Institute Director and Maxine Sharkey NSWTF.

    Mon April 29 Auburn Forum

    Students and community members speak out about how important TAFE is to themselves and their communities at TCA Forum in Auburn. Read what Jozefa's had to say pdf

    Gonski cuts 'exacerbate uncertainty' over course costs, availability - John Ross April 26, 2013 12:00AM

    Former TAFE institute director Josefa Sobski said fee hikes and funding cuts flagged this week would add to the instability created by rolling reforms and $80 million cutbacks announced last year. The NSW government is still working through the detail of the 2012 reforms, which will remove funding for courses deemed ‘non-vocational’. And it has provided no detail about the latest cuts, which will help fund its share of the Gonski schooling reforms." Read more

    IPART issues paper

    IPART has released an issues paper for our review of price and fee arrangements for government-funded vocational education and training under Smart and Skilled. This issues paper is the first step in our process for conducting this review.

    AEU Welcomes Federal TAFE Inquiry Announcement

    AEU President Angelo Gavrielatos has welcomed the announcement of a parliamentary Inquiry into TAFE. This is a much needed intervention by the federal parliament - TAFEs across Australia have suffered savage cuts over the past twelve months, right at the time when governments at all levels should be doing all they can to support Australians getting the qualifications they need, Mr Gavrielatos said today. 
    Over the past year, close to 3000 much-needed teaching jobs, and hundreds of courses in Victoria, NSW and Queensland TAFEs have been cut. TAFE qualifications underpin the Australian workforce - there are over 1.2 million students in TAFEs across the country, many in regional areas. We underestimate the importance of TAFE at our more

    Carmel Tebutt's Address for the launch of the TAFE Community Alliance

    'People in NSW are rightly proud of TAFE – it plays a key role in tackling skills shortages, training the plumbers, electricians, hairdressers and chefs of the future.
    It provides educational opportunities for those who have disengaged from education for whatever reason and gives people mid career or re entering the workforce the chance to upgrade their skills.'
    Read more Read more online

    UnitingCare Report on Launch of the TAFE Community Alliance

    "UnitingCare Burnside has a long history of working with TAFE Outreach to support vulnerable people and communities re-engage with education and employment. Our work demonstrates the integral role second-chance education plays in creating positive outcomes for those people experiencing hardship and disadvantage." More...

    Jozefa Sobski's Address for the Launch of the TAFE Community Alliance

    'Throughout its long history, TAFE in NSW and nationally has been an essential contributor to the economy and society; responsive in times of crisis: like wars and disasters, through economic upheaval, industry restructuring, technological and social change. It is a public institution ready to perform its public duty. It belongs to all of us. Its losses are ours. Its success is also our success' Read more Read more online

    Mary Waterford's Address for the Launch of the TAFE Commununity Alliance

    'We have a population of over 2 million residents in Greater Western Sydney, with many dealing with difficult social problems of poverty, social exclusion, housing stress / homelessness and unemployment. We also have great assets in our people and the TAFE & the community sector are both  skilled at developing innovative projects that build on individuals and community strengths to enable people to lead fuller, more engaged lives.' Read more Read more online

    Technical and Further Education: Communal Importance

    Respected academic and researcher Tony Vinson recognises the importance of TAFE to regional communities, why can't the government? In a paper on Mildura suffering the effects of cuts to TAFE funding in Victoria, Tony Vinson calls for a restoration of funding to TAFE to the pre-May 12 level, and cites the impact on communities when such funding has been cut. He makes two important comments (amongst others):
    "Concerning governments' stated desire of increasing social inclusion, learning is an extremely effective way of engaging with adults who have been isolated from both the labour market and other aspects of wider society..." and "How can declared social values like a 'fair go' be reconciled with the fact that government funding for TAFE has been declining over the past fifteen years?"
    Read more

    TAFE - imperative to Australian education and infrastructure

    Dr Jocelynne Scutt, Barrister and Human Rights Lawyer in Melbourne and Sydney reviews the current attack on TAFE and the impact such as the following:
    'University fees shut out working-class youth and potential mature age students or has them graduating with a high debt-burden. In turn, the policy results in an emphasis upon degrees in fields that most readily accommodate repayment of the debt.'

    Read more

    The colour of money is ruining art

    The SMH ran this opinion piece (27.12.12) on TAFE. Amongst other comments on the cuts and reforms to TAFE, Elizabeth Farrelly makes the comment:
    In 2014, NSW will follow Victoria and Queensland into the so-called "voucher" system favoured by neo-liberal idealogues.  Under the suitably Orwellian- sounding label "Smart and Skilled", it will license providers to compete with TAFE, with results, no doubt, every bit as reassuring as the deregulation of building certification.
    Read more
    TAFECommunityAlliance encourages you to write to the Herald and continue to highlight the impact of these changes on TAFE, students and the community generally.  You can: