SA budget devastates state’s TAFE sector


6 September 2018

Seven TAFE campuses across South Australia will be closed following stringent new measures announced by the Marshall SA government in this week’s state Budget.

Two TAFE campuses, Tea Tree Gully and Parafield Airport, are slated to be shut down by the end of June next year. The other five campuses targeted for closure — Port Adelaide, Urrbrae, Roxby Downs, Coober Pedy and Wudinna — are planned to close their doors sometime in 2019/20.

According to SA Education Minister John Gardner, these sites have “low utilisation” rates and enrolments have been steadily dropping. Officials say some courses can instead be delivered online or in workplaces, rather than a campus.

The government has committed an extra $109.8 million over five years in additional resources for SA TAFE in what it says is a fresh start for the sector. It says this will ensure continued service delivery and will help the sector meet national vocational training standards.

However on Tuesday SA Treasurer Rob Lucas described the extra funding as a “bail out”. In addition, there was no commitment for further funding beyond this five year period, meaning TAFE would have to compete for funding with profit-driven private training providers.

The Marshall government’s slashing cuts to TAFE campus numbers across the state demonstrates its lack of commitment to public vocational education, and signals its eventual plan to walk away from TAFE altogether in South Australia.

Forcing TAFE to compete for funding with profit-driven private providers is unacceptable. In addition, the term ‘bail-out’ is disrespectful to TAFE teachers and other professionals who work hard every day to provide vocational training opportunities to South Australians. TAFE graduates are an essential part of the engine that powers the South Australian economy.

Following the election earlier this year, Min. Gardner said that it was the government’s social responsibility to provide vocational education opportunities for all South Australians.

However this Budget does not reflect that. This Budget makes it clear that the Marshall government has no long-term commitment to TAFE in South Australia.