Governments must guarantee TAFE Funding
All governments need to guarantee that 70 per cent of their funding for vocational education is reserved for TAFEs to ensure the sector has the resources it needs to recover from the damage caused by a flawed privatisation agenda.
The AEU’s TAFE Annual General Meeting has resolved to strengthen its campaign for increased funding for TAFE, and a guarantee of at least 70% of government vocational education funding being reserved for TAFE institutes. The meeting also reaffirmed its call for a cap of 30% on the amount of government funding open to private for-profit providers.
In recent years TAFES have been hit by funding cuts and policies which saw taxpayer funding diverted to private providers, who made huge profits from offering low-quality courses
AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward said all governments needed to accept that privatisation of vocational education had been a costly disaster, and that they had a responsibility to invest in TAFEs to restore confidence in the system.
“These measures are necessary to undo the damage of a misguided VET privatisation agenda, and to ensure TAFEs retain their unique role and capacity to provide quality vocational education to all Australians who need it,” Ms Forward said.
“The privatisation of vocational education has failed. It has achieved nothing but to deliver huge profits to private providers at the expense of taxpayers and students.
“The damage to the quality of vocational education, and public faith in it, will take years to repair and the starting point must be properly funding TAFE.
The shift to market-based funding models has masked a long-term decline in vocational education funding from governments.The most recent Productivity Commission Report on Government Services showed total government funding dropped by 15 per cent between 2006 and 2015.
Funding cuts to TAFEs have led to increases in student fees, cuts to jobs and courses and campus closures.
Ms Forward said TAFEs had been forced to compete for funding with dodgy private providers who have misled students to make huge profits through the VET FEE-HELP loans scheme.
“The AEU will continue to campaign for TAFEs because we must defend the quality and capacity of institutions which are the foundation of our vocational education system, and a key driver of social equity,” Ms Forward said.
“The Federal Government finally recognised that the VET FEE-HELP system was unsustainable and modified it at the end of last year.
“However this will not fix the problem. Its replacement still allows private providers to make profits by offering low-quality courses with no requirement for a minimum number of contact hours.
“We need a funding system which recognises TAFEs unique role as the foundation of the vocational education system and guarantees it the funding it needs.”
As a matter of urgency, the AEU has called on all governments to:
- guarantee a minimum of 70 per cent of recurrent government vocational education funding to TAFE;
- immediately cap the amount of government VET funding open to private providers to 30 per cent;
- end funding cuts to TAFE colleges and restore funding removed from the TAFE system;
- place a moratorium on the sale of TAFE property and assets;
- regulate the fees and other charges for vocational education qualifications;
- consistent with requirements in the Australian Quality Framework, mandate a minimum number of hours that providers must deliver for vocational education qualifications;
- ban unregistered providers from delivering national VET qualifications, or receiving directly or indirectly government VET funding;
“The AEU is calling on all governments to publicly recognise and affirm the important role of TAFE in providing access to high quality vocational education for all Australians,” Ms Forward said.
“This must be backed with a 70% funding guarantee. Only this will address the damage done to the TAFE system.”