Rallying for TAFE

SPEAKING OUT: The Greens NSW rally at Coffs Harbour in response to TAFE funding.
SPEAKING OUT: The Greens NSW rally at Coffs Harbour in response to TAFE funding.

STOPPING the privatisation of NSW's TAFE system is the key message of a new campaign, which launched in Coffs Harbour this week.

The NSW Greens met with students at Coffs Harbour Education Campus on Monday to discuss the campaign along with concerns surrounding the future of TAFE.

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the campaign was in response to Federal Government and Labor funding policies which "are preventing students from accessing affordable education".

"We're calling for at least 85% of the total vocational education and training budget to be secured for TAFE," Ms Rhiannon said.

Ms Rhiannon said rising fees, declining enrolments and a loss of staff were the result of a national agreement between the former Labor government and the NSW Coalition in 2012.

She said the agreement was now pushing NSW down the same path as Victoria where TAFE had just 27% of enrolments in vocational education and training.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said TAFE campuses on the Mid North Coast were showing the distressing signs of a system in trouble.

"TAFE has a history of operating small colleges, but private providers go for the profitable solution of aggregating services into big centres," he said.

"This scenario will drain the regional skills base and have impacts on jobs in small towns and communities."

North Coast TAFE's Institute director Elizabeth McGregor emphasised that North Coast TAFE is not being privatised and continues to be affordable in the Coffs Harbour region.

"New students start learning every week at North Coast TAFE - with nearly 900 accessing a free place in the last month," she said.

"I want to assure our communities that North Coast TAFE still provides generous fee concessions, as well as the fee-free scholarships... and is definitely not being privatised."

Ms McGregor said that North Coast TAFE, like all education providers, is evolving and changing to ensure that it meets the needs of its students.

A NSW Upper House inquiry into the future of TAFE will come to Coffs Harbour on September 11.

Topics:  coffs harbour coffs harbour tafe john kaye lee rhiannon tafe

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