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Regional educators fear TAFE changes

ABC Radio National | 17 July 2014

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Educators are concerned that regional students will be affected by NSW government changes that will see the vocational education and training sector opened up to the private sector.
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Critics believe the changes under the Smart and Skilled policy will see course fees increase and will preclude many TAFE NSW3regional students from pursuing further education.

Kathy Nicholson, an organiser with the NSW Teachers Federation and former head teacher at Inverell TAFE in northern NSW, says TAFE has been a much valued pathway for vocational training for regional students. For some who left school early, it has also offered a second chance to gain higher education. b Ms Nicholson believes this pathway is being eroded in NSW as well as other states around the country as governments open up the sector to competition.

Brendan Sheehan, a former government advisor who is now a consultant and senior fellow at the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne, says there have been radical changes to TAFE in Victoria since successive state governments opened up the sector between 2008 and 2011. He says other states should learn the lessons from Victoria, where the TAFE sector has suffered job losses and campus closures.

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