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NSW Budget hammers TAFE students.

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25 June, 2003 MIN 386/03

Yesterday the NSW Government announced an increase in TAFE fees of up to 300%. The cost of a certificate IV qualification increasing by 230% from $260 to $850 per annum, while the cost of a graduate diploma will increase from $710 to $1,650. The increases will affect at least 40% of NSW TAFE students - over 170,000 people.

When asked to explain the changes, the NSW Minister for Education’s office said:

"…because wealthy students have been exploiting cheap courses." The Daily Telegraph, 25 June, 2003

In fact more than 26% of TAFE’s students come from the poorest socio-economic status groups in the nation.

The NSW Government has contradicted its own policy with this attack on training. The ALP says it is committed to:

"abolishing all fees in TAFE in mainstream vocational courses." NSW Labor Party Policy and Platform clause 5.2(a), Chapter 7, Education.

The attack on TAFE is also a direct contradiction of statements made by NSW Labor’s last Minister for Education:

"We should not risk forcing a generation of TAFE students into debt. We should be making it easier, not harder, for young people to get an education." Then NSW Education Minister John Watkins, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 2002

The NSW Teachers Federation has joined in condemning the NSW Government for the increase.

"The worst of these fee increases amounts to a more than 300% increase. This Government decision makes a mockery of the NSW Government promising not to put

HECS on TAFE students." Maree O’Halloran, President, NSW Teachers Federation, Media Release, 25 June 2003

Even the CFMEU has condemned Labor’s attack on Apprentices:

"Those employers who do the right thing and employ and train our youth should not be slugged with increased TAFE enrolment fees. The end result will be less apprentices and a crisis in terms of the supply of skilled labour…" Andrew Ferguson, NSW State Secretary, CFMEU, AAP, 25 June 2003

The Federal Labor Party however has said nothing about these new charges for TAFE students, focusing instead on the potential increases in HECS fees for those training to be doctors, vets and lawyers in our Universities.

Media Contact:

Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095