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Cuts to courses and staff at Ballarat University TAFE

Ballarat University

Ballarat University will cut 15 TAFE courses and is calling on staff to put up their hand for voluntary redundancies to take effect by the end of the year. The university’s senior deputy vice-chancellor Rowena Coutts told ABC Local Radio’s Steve Martin it’s not yet clear how many staff will lose their jobs. 

She says the university is proposing voluntary redundancies initially.

“So it’s really a matter of how many staff will come forward and make an application for us to consider.”

Ms Coutts says there will probably be around eight to 10 applications from the program areas that are being cut.

“Clearly we’ll be looking for applications from those staff in those areas of program closure.”

She says she doesn’t know if there will be further course and staff cuts in the near future with uncertainty over government policies at a federal level.

“I’m not convinced this is the end. Of course there’s no desire at all at the university that this should continue however we have to continually assess the financial viability of all of our programs.

“Having said that, there are a number of programs that are in fact growing and are doing extremely well. We really hope we’ll be able to grow those sections of our TAFE.”

Ms Coutts says the increase in course fees had translated to decreased demand for a number of courses.

“I think there is a general understanding across the community that due to the funding cuts, these are some of the flow-on effects.

“It’s very disappointing, particularly in regional Victoria.”

Dr Colin Long is the secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union in Victoria. He says there’s no doubt the cuts are due to last year’s State Government cuts to the sector.

“They were incredibly big cuts, the biggest in the history of the TAFE sector and it’s still flowing through unfortunately.”

He says TAFEs don’t have much choice but to cut programs when there aren’t enough student enrolments.

Courses to be cut include the diplomas of project management, massage therapy and fitness.

But Dr Long says the university has indicated the students currently enrolled in those courses will be able to complete them.

He describes the State Government’s cuts as “an ideological attack on public education”.

“They are determined to destroy the sector. We’ll be campaigning very hard to remove this government at the next election.”

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