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NSW Government backflip on some Tafe fees: but 300% increases remain.

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Media Release


24 September, 2003 MIN 468/03

I welcome the NSW Government’s announcement that it will reverse its recent decision to abolish fee exemptions for disadvantaged TAFE students including the unemployed and youth at risk.

However, many NSW TAFE students still face up-front fee increases of up to 300%.

From next year, the cost of a certificate IV qualification will increase 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, many from poor families.

In its Budget of 24 June 2003 the NSW Government removed more than 40 courses from its “fee free” list.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 June,

“The Government has moved to restrict well-off people taking a range of TAFE courses which were previously free....Officials said this was largely because they were being used by people who could afford fees.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2003

In fact, the courses were targeted at those most in need and included reading and writing, numeracy, volunteer training, employment skills, work readiness, community training, school mentoring, career opportunities and signed language.

I wrote to the NSW Premier, Bob Carr on 8 August 2003, expressing my disappointment in the extent of fee increases which would act as a barrier to participation and reduce demand for vocational education and training places.

Unlike university students who have access to income contingent HECS loan that are repaid at the completion of their studies when working, TAFE students are required to pay up-front and without access to a loan.

Simon Crean and Jenny Macklin remain silent on the increases in TAFE fees, focussing

instead on the potential increases in HECS fees for those training to be doctors, vets and lawyers in our universities.

TAFE students have every reason to feel that they have been abandoned by Labor.

Media Contact: Dr Nelson’s Office: Yaron Finkelstein 0414 927 663