TAFE fees are soaring and in many cases ordinary Queenslanders are being priced out of studying for the qualifications they need, says Shadow Treasurer, Curtis Pitt.
Mr Pitt said people all over Queensland were being forced to abandon their tertiary studies as the Newman Government’s funding cuts killed their hopes and ambitions.
“Some course fees have been increased 10 fold and are now way beyond the reach of ordinary working people,” he said.
[singlepic id=541 w=240 h=320 float=left] “It is time Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek faced the Queensland public to justify the incredible increases in fees he is imposing.
“When he talks about supercharging the Queensland economy, what he means is charging super fees for TAFE courses
“It’s as if the Newman Government is deliberately manoeuvring to prevent people going to TAFE, making these valuable institutions unsustainable so they can justify closing them down.
“It seems clear that when Mr Langbroek looks at TAFE he doesn’t see a fantastic resource for helping to train the next generation of workers, but an unnecessary expense and drain on the state budget.
“Now we learn that the Tropical North Queensland TAFE, Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE in Townsville and Mount Isa Institute of TAFE are to be merged by the middle of next year in what will be another cost-cutting exercise that will do nothing for the ambitions of students.
Mr Pitt said the Opposition had multiple examples of young people who had started the courses they needed to enter the workforce or gain qualifications to further their prospects, but had no choice but to cut their studies short when the fees were increased to unrealistic levels.
“Take for example a Diploma of Sustainability course in Cairns, up from $439 in 2013 to more than $6,000 in 2014,” said Mr Pitt.
“We got a letter from a woman in Brisbane explaining that a young man’s lifetime ambition to work in film and television was destroyed when the fee for the course he was on rose from $3,000 a year to more than $20,000.”
Other examples of outrageous fee increases include a Certificate 3 in wall and floor tiling at the Barrier Reef TAFE in Townsville leaping from $239 to $2,400 and courses currently costing $1,500 slugged to rise to $8,000 in 2014.
“One of the most disturbing cases, and one which shows the uncaring attitude of the Newman Government in sharp focus, is a literacy and numeracy course for the disabled at Metropolitan Southern Institute of TAFE in Brisbane.
“The Queensland Teachers’ Union says that the government is cutting the subsidy per student from $9,000 to $2,000, so a course that currently costs $36 per unit will rise to $500 per unit.
“As the units must be taken in a cluster of three, the bill will be $1,500 and for those who study full time it will be $3,000.
“I believe this shows that the Newman Government has no understanding of what ordinary people can afford and no understanding either of the value of Queensland’s TAFE institutions to the communities they serve.
“The fight is now on to save TAFE and the only way to do it is to send Campbell Newman and the LNP a clear message – hands off our TAFEs.”