TAFE is not leaving town, the government says.
Nanjing Night Net

However, Wednesday’s announcement that the state’s 10 autonomousinstitutes would make way forone overarching entity, appears to indicate otherwise.

Opinions are divided on what the reformmeans, and whether it is good for education and good for regions such as our own.

NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro said the institutes –including the Illawarra institute,which has 13 campuses from Wollongong to Bega and west to Yass –would be folded into one streamlined, multi-campus operation.

It’s a “once-in-a-generation reform” of the sector, effective immediately.

The barriers which currently exist between the institutes will be dismantled, the minister said.

There will be less duplication, administration will be streamlined and “One TAFE” will be efficient and strong, he said.

But common sense says regional areas will feel the effects of yet another “streamlining”.

Any loss of regional autonomy must be questioned. Can the government guarantee TAFE’s accessibilityin the Illawarra will bemaintained?

Will more of our campuses fall by the wayside?

Thewounds inflicted by the closure of the Dapto TAFE campus are still raw for many.

Among those with concerns isShellharbour MP Anna Watson, whosays changes to our TAFE campuses will make it easier for the state government to hide falling student enrolments, reduced course offers, cuts to teaching positionsand downgraded campus services.

In short, it will mean the state government can slice up any regional campus just like it did to Dapto over the last six years, she said.

The Dapto TAFE campus closed its doors on January 22 and has been replaced by a Connected Learning Centre, a shopfront, in the suburb’s CBD.

Despite the changes announced on Wednesday, the state government is not offering a single new dollar in extra funding to Illawarra TAFE, Ms Watson said.

Fairfax Media asked TAFE Illawarra to break down what the announcement means for this region.It replied with a generic statement from TAFE NSW.

The organisation is “up for the challenge”to deliver a strong, modern and more competitive educational system.

Let’s hope it can deliver.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.