Concerns over course cuts, job threats, rise in student fees

NSW Teachers Federation organiser Rob Long and Cooma TAFE Teachers Association president Rita Brademann.

NSW Teachers Federation organiser Rob Long and Cooma TAFE Teachers Association president Rita Brademann.

TEACHERS and students at Cooma TAFE have voiced concerns about what impact the NSW Government's new Smart and Skilled policy will have on courses and jobs when it comes into effect next year.

From January, TAFE will have to compete for students and funding with private providers under the reforms.

A meeting of the NSW Teachers Federation was held at the Cooma TAFE campus on Tuesday to discuss the changes.

There were concerns raised that courses at the campus could be cut, jobs could come under threat, teachers' workload increased and student fees rise.

Cooma TAFE Teachers Association president Rita Brademann said there was a lot still unknown about what impact the new reforms would have on the Cooma campus which was causing concern.

Teachers Federation organiser Rob Long said the Federation was concerned that the negative implications of cuts to the local students had not been fully analysed.

"Teachers are concerned about preparation for Smart and Skilled funding cuts that are increasing class sizes, reducing support for students with a disability, and seeing the reduction of permanent teaching positions," he said.

"Our local rural students at Cooma TAFE require extra funding to ensure they have access to quality vocational education."

Under the reforms, courses at Jindabyne and Bombala would be impacted as they don't have class sizes to cover the predicted funds available from Smart and Skilled.

Mr Long said local TAFE teachers were also being threatened by TAFE Managers that there will be no funding for small classes next year.

"Many classes in Cooma have to now start with small class sizes and build during the year," he said.

“This practice will be under pressure in 2015 for Cooma classes.

“There was some discussion that the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC) in Cooma, Queanbeyan and Bega would not viable under Smart and Skilled.

“Currently Illawarra TAFE is planning for more of the Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC) course to be delivered online or using video conference,” Mr Long said.

“There are positive outcomes for students in small classes to be able to continue studies, but the long term impact on Cooma TAFE may be reduced local courses.

“Students also shared their concerns about the reforms at the meeting.

“A local student currently studying the TPC in 2014 is concerned that the upcoming changes will impact on her study,” Mr Long said.

“She will not be able to complete her study this year and wants questions answered about the new funding for TPC, such as if it will be available in Cooma and will fees increase?”

Casual teachers are also concerned about losing some or all of their work and may impact on finances and ability to stay in Cooma.

Mr Long said the NSW Teachers Federation would continue to campaign to stop cuts.

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