Swinburne University of Technology will shut its Lilydale campus in Melbourne’s outer east, with up to 240 staff to lose their jobs. TAFE courses in hospitality, leisure, recreation and tourism will no longer be offered. Classes in low demand will also be dumped.
The decision comes after the Victorian government slashed $290 million from TAFE funding in the 2012/13 budget. Swinburne had $35 million cut from its budget for this financial year.
Vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson said with fewer viable TAFE courses and a drop in demand for higher education at Lilydale, the campus would close on July 1 next year. A question mark also hangs over the future of the university’s Prahran campus, with TAFE courses there to be moved to other campuses and the Faculty of Design to go to the Hawthorn campus.
Professor Kristjanson said up to 240 staff across the university would be offered voluntary redundancies as a result of the reshaping of the TAFE course portfolio, she said. Half would be teaching staff, and the rest general staff.
“Our need to refocus what we do means that we have needed to make difficult decisions across the board,” Professor Kristjanson said in a statement. “Ceasing operations at Lilydale is certainly the hardest decision of all.”
Swinburne TAFE courses that will be closed include cookery, floristry, local government, automotive studies and recreation and tourism.
There are 2500 students at the Lilydale campus. Of those, more than 900 are enrolled in TAFE courses. Swinburne says the higher education courses offered at Lilydale would be integrated into other campuses ahead of the closure.
Opposition education spokesman James Merlino said the closure of the Lilydale campus would have wide-ranging effects across Melbourne’s outer east.
“This is the reality of $290 million being ripped out of TAFE,” he told reporters. “Kids from regional Victoria travelling to Lilydale will no longer have the opportunity of a TAFE course.”
Australian Education Union Victorian branch vice president Meredith Peace called on the state government to reverse the TAFE funding cuts.
“We have already seen massive devastation across Victoria as a result of these cuts,” she said in a statement. “It is estimated that 2000 TAFE staff will be made redundant as a result of the funding cuts.” The union will rally against the TAFE cuts outside the State Library in Melbourne on August 16. (AAP)