TAFE looking at all options for the future

A PROPOSAL by the University of Ballarat to partner with regional TAFEs to deliver subjects across Victoria has been met with interest, but some restraint, by Advance TAFE.

Dubbed the Menzies Alliance, the University of Ballarat proposed a collaborative group to help increase the range of courses being delivered, choosing specialist or ‘lead’ providers in certain areas and utilising technology.

Some of these subject areas may have suffered reductions under State Government cuts to the vocational education sector.

Advance TAFE chief executive Peter Heilbuth said the model had merit in its collaborative and integrated approach, but it was only one of many options which TAFEs were considering.

“This proposal is not a merger, nor the creation of a regional ‘super-TAFE’,” he said.

“We already enjoy a very good relationship with University of Ballarat and deliver its Bachelor of Business as a full degree in Sale.

“We will always continue to explore these kinds of opportunities, from a range of higher education providers, including our other partners, Monash and Deakin University.

“We have considerable strength in providing training and education choices across our region and our focus is to continue to provide the best range of options for our community.”

Advance TAFE has maintained many courses in business, hospitality and tourism, despite this being one of the areas hardest hit by the State Government funding cuts to the TAFE sector.

Mr Heilbuth said the demand for job skills in those areas in Gippsland was still strong, and many provided pathways into further education options, which were important to retain.

Mr Heilbuth acknowledged there may be courses that, while not viable when offered individually at each TAFE, might be practically shared between a group of universities and TAFEs, partially through using technology.

“But this doesn’t mean we would be able to reinstate the courses we have had to remove,” he said.

Mr Heilbuth said the Advance TAFE board, executive team and staff had been working hard on its transition plan for 2013 and beyond.

“Nothing has been ruled out.” he said.

“We are looking seriously at all ideas and suggestions to ensure we continue as a successful, relevant and sustainable education hub in our region,” Mr Heilbuth said.

The State Government has set a deadline of early September for each TAFE to provide their transition plans detailing how they will operate under new funding from 2013.

One of the areas due to be affected from 2013 is the government’s removal of funds for services such as disability support, careers advice, student counselling and other student services.

The transition plans will be reviewed by a government-appointed panel, which will then make its final recommendations to the State Government later this year.