Victorian Government accused of “ripping the guts” out of TAFEs as leaked document reveals extent of funding cuts

A confidential cabinet document has revealed the Victorian Government is planning TAFE campus and course closures, fee hikes, job cuts and an asset sell-off.

A cabinet-in-confidence document outlining the planned cuts was leaked to various media outlets, including SmartCompany.

The document reveals Swinburne University wants the state government to buy its Lilydale and Prahran campuses or allow them to be sold off.

It estimates its Prahran campus would fetch $50 million, while Lilydale would raise $27.5 million.

The leaked document foreshadows Swinburne’s withdrawal from automotive, building, cookery, floristry, food processing, government, hospitality, leisure, local government, massage, public safety, recreation and tourism courses.

Swinburne will also reduce VET (vocational educational training) in schools offerings and increase fees by 22% to 26%.

Victoria University wants to close its Sunbury campus and cut its events and tourism, boat-building, animal studies and veterinary nursing courses as well as closing the VU restaurant.

The planned cuts are the latest blow to Victoria’s beleaguered TAFE sector after the Baillieu government announced in its May budget that it would slash TAFE subsidies by $300 million.

Industry groups have already voiced their concerns that other states and territories will follow Victoria’s lead by rolling out student demand-driven vocational training systems, leading to an oversupply in areas like personal training and undersupply in other areas.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews told SmartCompany the leaked documents were “extraordinary” and make it clear that Premier Ted Baillieu is “not just robbing TAFEs of their funding but robbing Victorian kids of their future.”

“These documents reveal asset sales, sell-offs, courses cuts and staff being made redundant,” says Andrews.

“Ted Baillieu is ripping the guts out of TAFE and these documents show that.”

A government spokesperson said cuts had not been finalised despite the content of the leaked document.

The spokesperson said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development received the last of the detailed transition proposals from TAFEs on Tuesday and warned the government had not yet received an evaluation from the TAFE Reform Panel.

“Once the TAFE Reform Panel has provided its comprehensive evaluation, the government will be in a position to consider these matters in detail,” the spokesperson said.

“No response to any particular proposal has been made by the government.

“Speculation to the contrary is, at the very least, premature.”

Professor Linda Kristjanson, vice-chancellor of Swinburne University of Technology, said Swinburne announced in July this year its intention to depart its Lilydale and Prahran campuses.

“We will work closely with the Victorian Government, local communities and other providers to plan futures for Lilydale and Prahran which include the continued provision of post-secondary education at both locations.”

Victoria University declined to comment.

 

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