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Qld slashes subsidies for VET courses

The Australian    |     6  August 2014

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The Queensland government has drastically  slashed the range of vocational qualifications it supports, removing more than 200 mostly high-level courses from its subsidised list.

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 Budget cutsSome 170 of the state’s certificate IV, diploma and advanced ­diploma courses no longer attract teaching subsidies, in areas from the arts, retail and business to health, community services and public safety.

The government has also removed funding for more than 30 lower-level qualifications, from pest management and conservation earthworks to shearing, firefighting and concreting. The deleted list includes about 20 courses that train people for Queensland’s four economic “pillars” of tourism, agriculture, construction and resources, which the government is entrusting to lead the state to a new period of economic prosperity.

The changes mean that about two-thirds of TAFE Queensland’s 800-odd programs no longer ­attract government subsidies, ­although some of these courses have been superseded.

Other states have restricted their funding to courses thought to lead to work or reduced funding for other courses to unsustainable levels. Queensland has now gone further, withdrawing funding on the basis of qualification level as well as occupational outcome.

The Australian Education Union said the changes signified “a wholesale move” out of previously subsidised qualifications.

Deputy federal secretary Pat Forward said the loans, known as VET FEE-HELP, had taken a toll on TAFEs.

“The really poisonous part of the last national agreement was not just the requirement around competition, but the introduction of VET FEE-HELP,” This was an inducement for the states to sign up to the agreement because they could cost shift on to the commonwealth, and ultimately on to students.”

The AEU has accused Queensland of fudging the figures, claiming its investment in training has been “maintained” at $615 million this financial year. The Productivity Commission’s recent Report on Government Services put the 2012 figure at $684m.

 

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