A Labor government will abolish the government’s “unfair cap on student places” and it will “back public TAFE all the way,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said last night in his budget reply.
“Malcolm Turnbull says he can’t find the money to properly fund unis. But he can find $80 billion to give away to big business and the banks,” Mr Shorten said, committing to creating 200 000 undergraduate places, over 12 years. Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek added later last night, “We were proud to announce tonight that the demand driven system will be back under Labor.”
The Opposition Leader also committed to “waiving fees for 100 000 TAFE students “in high-priority sectors.”
This was very good news for the public training system and peak lobby TAFE Directors Australia knows it; “fairness in funding for tertiary education will start to be restored if Labor is offered the chance to deliver 100,000 free training places in TAFEs in priority areas, TDA CEO Craig Robertson said last night. “Those people facing fees which stops them from training will now have the opportunity to enrol in TAFEs and pursue their ambition.”
But the Labor leader’s commitment was bad business as usual for the for-profit training sector; “the Opposition’s philosophical support for TAFE, confirmed in the Budget-in Reply, would see a retreat from policies that support diversity and choice for industry and students. “With the growing impact of demographic and digital factors, Australian students and industry need a tertiary education sector that offers greater innovation and flexibility – not less,” Rod Camm from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training said last night.