Students enrolled in TAFE courses are increasingly concerned as government budget cuts continue to threaten the quality of Victoria’s vocational education providers. Vivian Tan reports.
Students enrolled in TAFE (technical and further education) courses are increasingly concerned as government budget cuts threaten the quality of Victoria’s vocational education providers.
Victoria’s TAFE sector has undergone dramatic restructuring in recent years, with the introduction of a demand-driven funding model for private and public operators, and a series of severe funding cuts.
Last year almost $300 million of funding was cut from vocational education by the State Government, a move which forced many TAFE institutes to raise student fees, cancel courses or dismiss staff.
Speaking to Meld, students enrolled in vocational education courses expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality of the training they received, calling on operators to raise the standard of the courses.
There is going to be the risk of lower quality education which may lead to major troubles down the line when students graduate and try to find work, only to realise that their education is subpar and can’t find employment. – Tristan Poh, international student
Malaysian student Tristan Poh is currently pursuing a Certificate III in Children’s Services at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. While he enjoys his course and the practical experience it provides, he admits that there appears to be a lack in technical knowledge as some of his teachers are not fully aware of how to operate a computer and systems. He also saw clearly some of the concerns that students in his position might hold.
“There is going to be the risk of lower quality education which may lead to major troubles down the line when students graduate and try to find work, only to realise that their education is subpar and can’t find employment. That would be a major fear I think,” Mr Poh said.
Mel Everett, a local student studying an Advanced Diploma of Public Relations at RMIT, says the budget cuts have already affected her as her course is no longer government subsidised.
“Everything here is pretty much standard except the fact that I have to pay a lot more than previous students, and I still have to pay for extras on top of that. It’s so expensive!” she said.
Ms Everett believes her course could be taught better, and noted it was frustrating that the quality of teaching does not reflect the fees she currently pays.
“I dislike my course. I feel like it’s lacking teachers who can actually teach. It’s been six months and I still don’t know much about public relations. I don’t really know what I’m paying for as my course does not require much equipment or facilities either,” she said.
A recent report released by independent think tank Per Capita highlighted the declining standard of vocational training offered by some private operators as a cause for concern.
The report, funded by the Victorian TAFE Association, found that drastic cuts to TAFE funding had failed to address skills shortages and led to a greater number of under-skilled trainees entering the workforce.