DESPITE savage government funding reductions South West TAFE has survived the first stage with enrolment numbers holding strong — but a second round of cuts is imminent.
Enrolment numbers across the institute’s four campuses in Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Glenormiston are expected to be about 12,000, similar to earlier semesters.
About 30 courses, mainly in lower certificate business, hospitality and recreation courses were deleted from the new semester offering which started this week following the government’s decision to sharply reduce subsidies by up to 340 per cent.
“We are holding the line,” institute chief executive Joe Piper told The Standard.
“There hasn’t been a sharp drop-off as feared.”
Strong enrolments have been attributed to a recent campaign urging students to sign up by June 30 and avoid higher fees.
“Changes to course offerings have been well supported by the community with TAFE reaching its revised enrolment targets of second semester,” he said.
“There are still many opportunities available for students who would like to study in the second half, including a strong industry short-course program.
“After a very quick and difficult transition our staff have rallied to ensure everyone who wants to study with us this year can do so in confidence.”
The institute cut 43 jobs in May after the state government reduced funding by $2.9 million for this year and is now tackling a new challenge to cope with a $4.3m cut in 2013 and present a transition plan to the government by September.
It is understood staff numbers and course offerings will be key considerations in the next stage.
“This plan will be a blueprint to ensure that viable TAFE programs meet the region’s training needs,” Mr Piper said.
“It will outline the programs and services the institute will provide throughout the region for the next three years.”
Australian Education Union vice-president Greg Barclay said all TAFE institutes had given an assurance staff would be consulted before the new plan was enacted.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Farmers’ Federation, applauded an assurance from Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall that agricultural courses would continue in the TAFE sector with many higher certificate courses receiving a five per cent funding loading.
VFF president Peter Tuohey said he told Mr Hall of the importance of ongoing regional training providers in agricultural courses to ensure a skilled work force for the future.
Mr Piper urged the agriculture sector to support training providers. “We expect good enrolments to continue at our Glenormiston campus.”