Early Warning – NSW Government leaves TAFE students stranded

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Politics

Yesterday in Sydney many were reading their morning papers and digesting the news that the Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne was lying when he said that the NSW State Government was “on board” with his so-called education reforms.

While some were coming to terms with more lying from the new Abbott led Coalition government, others in Sydney were making last-minute hasty plans to reschedule their lives which were suddenly thrown into turmoil.

So what brought this on?

The NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who some of you may remember for signing the pledge to guarantee no cuts in TAFE funding during the election campaign that saw the Coalition form government in NSW made another decision this week.

Mr Piccoli ignored his campaign pledge and as many will remember shortly afterwards and slashed 1800 staff and a huge number of services from TAFE as part of the Coalitions $1.7 Billion education cuts.

Piccoli signs the pledge to maintain TAFE funding

Piccoli signs the pledge to maintain TAFE funding

This week the decision to make even more cuts was made.

On Monday those who had enrolled at Hornsby and Northern Beaches TAFE for Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses in Visual Arts found out that the cuts weren’t quite done with yet.

Those unfortunate enough to be enrolled in these classes were told by phone this week that the decision had been made to cancel these courses altogether at the TAFE in which they were enrolled.

This news came less than one week before classes were due to commence.

Is this what the Department Of Education thinks is fair warning?

Students were understandably quite distressed at this last-minute change to their education plans, and rightly so too, a few days is nowhere near enough notice for a decision like this.

Students from Hornsby were informed that they could enrol to do these courses at Meadowbank TAFE when phoned by their teacher.

What students then discovered was that not only had the course at Meadowbank already started a week earlier, but that it also operated on completely different days. For those juggling part-time or casual employment this is of course a major drama as they have already organised employment for the days they were not going to be at TAFE. Many now face the decision of continuing their course and finding new work, or not furthering their education and continue to earn a wage.

For one of the students from Hornsby who is in a wheelchair there is the added humiliating difficulty of no disabled access or lift to the Visual Arts section of Meadowbank TAFE which is on the second floor.

Teachers show their feelings on the Coalitions TAFE cuts

Teachers show their feelings on the Coalitions TAFE cuts

Given the short notice and understandable anger of the students involved I contacted Education Minister Adrian Piccoli’s office for comment.

I received a response from a senior media officer that cited low enrolment numbers for the courses at Hornsby TAFE.

Although no numbers for Northern Beach TAFE enrolments were supplied, Piccoli’s office stated that 34 students had been enrolled at Hornsby in these courses. However sources from Hornsby TAFE speak of more than 80 students enrolled in these courses.

These were students enrolled in visual art classes such as drawing, painting, print making, and even photography.

Piccoli’s office also stated

“Students have also been advised of the option to study at other TAFE locations, including Ourimbah and Kogarah.”

Those who know Sydney and the Central Coast area will understand what a ridiculous notion it is to expect someone to travel from Hornsby to these locations, let alone the Northern Beaches Campus at Brookvale.

From Brookvale to Ourimbah which is on the NSW Central Coast is 82.8kms drive, most of it through city traffic, via public transport I would hate to even imagine the ordeal involved.

The Ministers senior media officer also stated

“The Institute is consulting with directly impacted staff as part of the change management process. Staffing levels may need to be adjusted based on student demand.”

It sounds like more sackings are on their way from that statement, more broken promises from the Minster.

For those seeking to further their education by doing these courses the more expensive Option B would have been to seek these courses via private colleges. It is unfortunate however that on top of the added expense, given the late notice most enrolments for these courses have either closed or classes are already full and alas there is no option C.

Yesterday I also contacted the NSW Shadow Minister for Education Ryan Park who stated when asked about the matter

“This is a disgraceful decision that will not only affect the students but also their families as I understand child care and other arrangements had been previously organised by students on the understanding that these courses would be going ahead”


Ryan Park raises a point that really highlights the consideration and level of community care that has gone into this decision.

Ryan Park - Concerned for  students and families

Ryan Park – Concerned for students and families

The sooner the Coalition understand that these are not just numbers on a spreadsheet, these are real people with real lives and real responsibilities the better off we will all be.

Those parents out there who live in the real world know the struggle, the effort and the expense of finding good child care. It would seem those in the Coalition wouldn’t even give those real world issues a passing thought.

For those left high and dry by a government who cares less about education than Gina Rinehart cares about minimum wage, I hope you manage to reshuffle your lives and complete your education.

For those wondering why this had to be rushed through and the numbers couldn’t have been re-evaluated for a decision next year so that appropriate notice could be given to students, I may have an answer for you.

There is a state election in NSW next year.

Students and teachers vote.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Barry Bunnings

  1. M. R. says:

    Liberals. That’s all you need to know. Weirdos and idealogues and general mad people. Liberals.
    PFUH! Useless, cruel, selfish, I’m-alright-Jack people.

    • Wayne Rowles says:

      You’ve got it in one Liberals,deconstructionists, wiping away everything that gives the working class a leg-up in society.They want to establish the old status quo,the servant and master mentality and it goes on year after year Why?political power in the hands of rich people,power given to them by the moronic masses,that are only interested in misleading media,i.e.Murdoch’s media.Education is the key to a dynamic and progressive democracy,the underpinning of true democracy in the hands of the people not the privileged few.

  2. we will just bring in more workers from overseas to fill the positions that would have been filled from our own community.

  3. ozymand1a5 says:

    Whilst by no means wishing to excuse the vile behaviour of the current Federal and State governments I would like to mention that I commute to TAFE in Granville from the Central Coast by train and it is simple and really no more difficult than the trip taken daily by thousands of Central Coast residents into and out of Sydney to work. Hornsby to the Central Coast is a relatively simple trip, and if travelling against the general flow of commuters (i.e. northwards) it need not be a difficult one, as seats are much more likely to be available than when travelling in the reverse direction. That said, I abhor the vicious attacks on educational establishments, TAFE educators (most of which are commendable people) and students, especially since education is one of the primary reasons why taxation is levied in the first place.

    • Nifty_26 says:

      Ozy – understand your point of travelling in the opposite direction, but if it is anything like metro in vic you would have less trains going that way with lengthier times between trains. In vic most of the morning trains come from out posted sidings for the morning peak,the afternoon is a little different but the rational is the same due to getting everybody home in the evening. Also you may have to reschedule your routine due to the difference in the bus/train timetables.

  4. Cuts to TAFE funding is also rife here in Victoria. LNP ideology is harming this nation of ours.

  5. kristapet says:

    There is also a further consequence, to the closing down of an Art Department in Hornsby. There is a multiplier effect in play, which is, what the impact of there being less students has on the surrounding shops and businesses. The business district depend on the custom of the students who attend the TAFE , food and coffee shop outlets, and also, in particular, the one, really comprehensive, Art Supply shop in Hornsby.
    A fall in students equals a loss in income going to the business community.
    Some of us, have other issues and other reasons why we would find the travel difficult to other campuses.
    A lot of work was done by the staff and teachers to secure and encourage this large number of students to enroll and attend at Hornsby. And the number was 80.This was an amazing result given the hike in course fees.
    The Visual Arts Department worked in tandem with a robust Ceramics Department which created
    a strong Creative Arts presence.
    Another issue that needs airing is that the facilities are already in place with specific purpose rooms for art making, and a Gallery for student exhibitions. Do we want another a Seaforth?
    Seaforth is a TAFE, is a vacated building which has been left standing empty, with good art facilities going to waste, standing empty for more than 8 years.
    There are a lot of High Schools in this Region that would benefit from having a TAFE with a fully functioning Art School at its centre, given that this region is art rich community with many artists and crafts persons living here and in surrounding area. Although we have a thriving small Art centre at Wallarobba, Hornsby could do with a Cultural Arts Centre
    This was a very short sighted action. It is also part of the agenda to down grade Arts Education and withdraw funds from Arts Education
    I missed out on a newly constructed Drawing course and the benefit of being taught by a very able teacher and a prize winning and successful artist.I am very pissed off about it.
    This Government does not see the value in the Arts despite the fact, art contributes to the Economy through Tourism and Cultural Exchange, and Art Galleries and Museums and Art Prizes.
    Australia stopped being an art desert long ago, However the rate we are closing down Art Departments we may be sliding back down to a culturally deserted art environment with empty art rooms standing bare.

  6. As much as TAFE funding cuts do bite (as someone doing a diploma it is quite close to home) a lot of it could be avoided if management of these organisations was better co-ordinated, and just better in general.

    I can understand classes such as Visual Arts and such being cut, but those courses should always be offered in a pool and run per student demand at as many TAFEs as demand warrants. Having every TAFE offering the same course can ultimately lead to not enough students in that course at any TAFE to make it viable. I think the running of TAFEs has been lacking for quite some time and really does need to be addressed. They could do with some more money too, but on the provision that student numbers increase and course quality increase.

    Perhaps that could be done in-line with other educational improvements, like moving Arts Degrees out of universities (or doing away with some of them all together) and making them TAFE orientated, and move the funding with them. You could be surprised what simply moving numbers and burdens around could achieve, integrating TAFE further into university and vice versa could benefit both.

    Though I suspect if we left that to the politicians it is all likely to be left till it becomes just another expense reduction issue.

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