NEW England Institute of TAFE teachers are likely to feel the brunt of $16.1 million in budget cuts to the sector.
The cuts, announced in the NSW budget for 2012/ 2013, are likely to translate to job losses for some TAFE staff, according to New England region Teachers Federation TAFE organiser, Kathy Nicholson.
Ms Nicholson said the cuts were another broken promise from the O’Farrell government which, prior to the 2011 election, pledged to invest in TAFE by employing more permanent teachers.
“Among those to sign the Invest in TAFE pledge were deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli,” she said.
“It’s my understanding Kevin Anderson signed that pledge, too.”
Ms Nicholson said TAFEs across the state faced a total 2.7 per cent reduction in staffing, which would result in the loss of 500 equivalent full-time jobs by 2016.
“We don’t know how many of them will be in New England yet,” she said.
Other cuts will be brought in, too – course hours will be reduced, class numbers will go up and, under new reforms, disability support and psychological counselling and libraries could also go.
Ms Nicholson said the latest cuts were another kick in the teeth.
“We’ve already had 15 years of cuts,” she said.
“On top of what’s been announced, we’re also expected to cut costs another 1.2 per cent.”
In the 2012/2013 budget, the New England Institute’s funding dropped by $600,000.
Ms Nicholson said another saving on top of that would mean job losses were inevitable.
She said TAFEs were also being expected, as a result of new policies that could be bought in from July 25, to tender their vocational education courses to compete with private enterprise.
“There are a number of proposed changes under the reform,” she said.
Ms Nicholson said one of the consequences of the reforms would limit a student’s ability to gain qualifications above a certificate III.
“Students will be issued a voucher, and after they qualify for their certificate III will have to pay full market cost for courses,” she said.
“TAFE students, who are often less financially well-off than those who choose to go to university, and who often earn less when their qualifications are complete, will be required to sign up for FEE-HELP, leaving them with large, long-term study debts.
“Policies like that ... have been brought in in Victoria, and effectively privatise the system and force students who can’t afford to study walk away from it completely.”