Ballarat and Bendigo TAFE cuts

28 June 2012

The University of Ballarat and Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE (BRIT) are the latest Victorian TAFEs to announce course closures in the wake of massive government funding cuts, estimated at up to $300 million a year across the sector.

Ballarat, which estimated the cuts would cost it $20 million or 40% of its TAFE funding, will be shedding courses in areas like hospitality, business, arts and equine studies.  Under a restructure announced on 26 June much of the university’s vocational training will be concentrated in a new Industry Skills Centre that will cultivate close ties to industry, which will provide training in engineering, manufacturing, automotive, electro-technology, building and construction, plumbing, agriculture, wool,  conservation and land management, horticulture, food processing, meat, baking, furniture, hair and beauty and hospitality.  The university has opened a voluntary redundancy program but hasn’t put a figure on job losses.

Almost a quarter of BRIT’s courses will also be scrapped after the cuts reduced its income by a similar proportion or $9 million.  Among the 39 courses slated for closure are agriculture, media, shearing and community services, as well as the widely predicted loss of hospitality, business, fitness and retail courses.  BRIT will shed 100 jobs, with 25 staff going in July and another 75 by December. There is speculation that the government will need to provide special assistance to BRIT to fund redundancies, given its operating loss of $2.5 million in 2012.

Chief executive Maria Simpson said the “very difficult decisions” had been necessitated the budget cuts but in a remarkable statement, a government spokesman “distanced’ the government from the cuts, declaring that staffing levels are “independent of government.”

Of the cuts, the Bendigo Advertiser observed:

Perhaps the most disappointing thing … was the state government’s refusal to accept any blame for this dark day.  You cannot strip $9 million from a facility and then say you have nothing to do with staffing levels.  [Government] budget cuts led to this day and what we as a community would prefer to hear is how [the government] is  going to help the 100 people we feel for today and provide for those students who no longer have a career path once available to them.

See also:

The spin of Victorian TAFE cuts


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