TAFE loses $9 million

ADVANCE TAFE lost more than $9 million last year, according to its annual report.

The report showed a net loss just over $9 million for 2013, compared to a $874,000 loss in 2012. In 2009, the TAFE had a $9.9 million profit.

The TAFE received $6.8 million less in total financial assistance from the state government last year.

The tabling of the report in State Parliament this week also led the state opposition to accuse the government of hiding it in the shadow of the budget.

However, Higher Education and Skills Minister Nick Wakeling said the report was tabled in parliament on Tuesday in line with legislative requirements.

Mr Wakeling said Advance TAFE had taken steps to strengthen its financial position by merging with GippsTAFE to form Federation Training, which will integrate with FedUni by 2016.

“This provides for greater opportunities for Gippsland students,” he said.

“The decision to merge — identified by the boards of the institutes — positions Federation Training to offer more courses for more students and more incentive for them to study in Gippsland.

“The Victorian Coalition government’s commitment of $40.2 million from the TAFE Structural Adjustment Fund for Federation Training will help to support the merger transition process and upgrade training facilities.

Shadow Higher Education Minister Steve Herbert said Advance TAFE’s loss and GippsTAFE’s $5 million loss would mean more job losses, course cuts and campus closures following the merger of the organisations to create Federation Training.

“The combined financial losses at Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE are so severe that the new Federation Training will be a merger of two broke TAFE institutes,” he said.

“The success of the merged TAFEs must be in doubt with annual losses far outweighing the Napthine government’s so called rescue package.”

“It is now clear that more campus closures and staff losses are on the horizon.

“When it comes to TAFE in Victoria, Gippsland students are on their own.”

The importance of TAFE education to the local community was emphasised in this week’s Wellington Shire Council meeting with councillors clearly supportive of an on-going presence for Federation Training in Sale.

Mayor Scott Rossetti, former Advance TAFE chairman, stressed the need for a substantial bricks and mortar presence with teaching capabilities.

“The advantage of having TAFE and higher ed together is having people being able to go to major centres — Bairnsdale, Sale, Traralgon, Morwell, Warragul — and actually sign-up at those places and start a course,” he said.

Councillor Carolyn Crossley said the changes to higher education in Gippsland over the past year, which included the Monash University Gippsland campus being taken over by the University of Ballarat to create Federation University, provided a great opportunity for the region.

The full Advance TAFE annual report can be viewed at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/file_uploads/ADVANCE_TAFE_AR_2013_hrwDXpMh.pdf