AEU survey reveals impact of Morrison Government budget cuts on TAFE


9 July 2020

An AEU survey of TAFE members has revealed the deep impact of funding cuts by the Morrison Government on TAFE, Australia’s public provider of Vocational Education and Training (VET).

The State of Our TAFEs survey, the first for a decade, received more than 1400 responses from AEU members from every TAFE institution in Australia. The survey provided insights from experienced TAFE teachers and reveals the impact of budget cuts across the sector.

Since being in government, the Federal Coalition has:

  • overseen 140,000 fewer apprentices now than when it was elected
  • cut $3 billion from vocational education,
  • overseen a 24.5% decline in TAFE enrolments

The 2020 AEU State of Our TAFEs survey shows:

  • More than two thirds of respondents (68%) were aware that their institution had stopped providing particular courses in the last three years, with a lack of funding cited as the most common reason for course closure
  • 81% of respondents said that the budget in their department had decreased in the last three years, while nearly half (49%) of those in teaching roles said class sizes had increased.
  • Current levels of TAFE capital works and equipment investment were considered inadequate and requiring of some or significant investment by the vast majority of respondents
  • More than three quarters (76%) of respondents said that they had considered leaving the sector in the last three years. 94% of those were currently working in the job that they had considered leaving.
  • Workload and excessive hours, management approach to and lack of support for staff and arduous compliance requirements were the most commonly cited reasons for wanting to leave.
  • 96% of respondents said administration has increased as a proportion of total work time in the last three years and of these 84% said it has increased significantly

In 2019 the Morrison Government also cut $3.9 billion from the infrastructure-focused Education Investment Fund, cut $325.8 million in funding from TAFE budgets, and diverted $200 million of vocational education funding from TAFE to industry.

As shown by the survey findings, cuts to funding for TAFE have a deep impact on course and campus closures, attraction and retention of teaching staff and workload

Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, Australia will have an urgent need for qualified workers across all industries. TAFE is the only institution that has the infrastructure, the workforce and the trusted reputation to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19.

However, TAFE must be supported to deliver high quality Vocational Education. It must be the immediate priority of the Morrison Government to invest in TAFE as the anchor institution of vocational education, to ensure that it is the centrepiece of the effort to rebuild Australia’s economy

A summary of the State of our TAFEs survey can be found here: