The Australian Education Union has more than 190,000 members nationally in schools, early childhood education centres, Corrections Education, Adult Migrant Education Services, and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. The AEU campaigns and lobbies for increased funding and resources for TAFE institutes, improved industrial and professional conditions for TAFE teachers and improvements in vocational education for all TAFE students.
TAFE has always been a significant part of the Australian education system. Over a million students are enrolled in 58 TAFE institutes around the country across hundreds of campuses.
TAFE works with local industry, communities and other education sectors and offers a wide range of courses across most industry areas, with pathways between TAFE and schools, universities and workplaces a key focus of TAFE teachers' work. TAFE teachers are highly skilled professionals who work with a diverse range of students in classrooms, workplaces, online and in the community. TAFEs put students first and TAFE students report high levels of satisfaction. Currently, the TAFE system in Australia is a risk in a number of states and territories, from underfunding and privatisation and the AEU is lobbying for tighter standards on courses offered by private providers and a cap of a maximum 30 per cent on the amount of public funding allocated contestably. These measures are urgently needed after revelations of widespread rorting of students, and of research which shows that the for-profit sector is making between 30 and 50 per cent profit from government funding.