STUDENTS at the University of Ballarat TAFE will have to wait three weeks before finding out which courses will be slashed.
The university yesterday announced it will cut up to 60 of its TAFE courses following funding cuts in the recent state budget.
It will also start to offer staff redundancies.
Currently, the university has 180 TAFE programs with 8500 regional students enrolled in 2011 at its various campuses.
University of Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby said the university was facing a 40 per cent decline in funding in courses including business, finance, management, hospitality, fitness and horticulture.
“The projected TAFE funding cuts to UB will be approximately $20 million,” Professor Battersby said.
“With such a massive funding cut, there are few options for UB ... a number of UB’s Vocational Education Training (VET) programs have become financially unviable.”
“The university...will close between 50 to 60 VET programs.”
Students already enrolled in programs to be discontinued will be able to complete their studies, he said.
Pro vice-chancellor (schools and programs) Andy Smith said the culling, which represents 30 per cent of the TAFE courses, would be a hard blow for regional students.
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“We want to make sure that despite the funding cuts, which I think are disproportionately great on higher-level courses, we keep as many pathways open (for students to move into university),” Professor Smith said.
“The government really needs to look at the impact the cuts are having on the abilities for students in TAFE to move into higher education.”
He said it would take up to three weeks to find out the exact courses and the number of staff that would have to go.
Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall’s spokesman James Martin said the minister had already met with eight TAFEs and will be meeting with Ballarat later this week to discuss options for training in the Central Highlands.
“The Victorian government in its 2012-13 budget announced an extra $1 billion over the next four years for the training system,” Mr Martin said.
“Much of this money will go to support courses that provide higher-level training such as apprenticeships and areas of skills shortages or that make an important contribution to the Victorian economy and Victorians’ chances of gaining meaningful employment.
“Ballarat as a dual sector university is well placed to capitalise on these opportunities.”
Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King said she was deeply concerned, but not surprised, that the impact of the Baillieu government’s savage budget cuts to the TAFE sector were already hitting home hard in Ballarat and the region.
“TAFE is at the frontline when it comes to giving the people of Ballarat and region the skills they need to get a job,” Ms King said.
“The Victorian government is risking significant skills shortages when its budget cuts mean some of the state’s biggest training providers, like the University of Ballarat, are forced to downsize and reduce courses.
“Not only will we not be developing people with the skills we need in this region, we will be putting quality trainers on the scrap heap.”