SAVAGE cuts of up to $29million in Victoria University TAFE funding announced in the state budget will make it harder for students from low-income and migrant families to get training.
More than $100million has been cut from fee subsidies for courses in the 2012-13 state budget, forcing TAFE providers to hit students with big fee increases or close courses and cut jobs.
Funding used to help TAFEs offer services such as libraries, counselling services and learning support has also been cut.
VU says its initial calculations show it will lose up to $29million. The university estimates funding rates will be cut from $6.50-$10 per student to less than $2 for some courses in business, hospitality, retail, customer contact, process manufacturing, events, fitness and sport.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said ultimately students would pay more for education.
VU has invested $60million in its sports science centre and a 120-seat training restaurant and function centre as part of a recent $2.7million upgrade to its hospitality training facilities.
The cuts follow VU's announcement of a major restructure of its university and TAFE.
Under the restructure, planned to be in place by the start of next year, the current faculties will be replaced by eight colleges, linking TAFE and university programs concerning business; creative industries and creative arts; education and early childhood; engineering, science and the built environment; health; law, justice and government; social science and communities; and sport science.
Asked if the cuts could affect hospitality and sports science, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anne Jones said the university was assessing the impact of the reduced funding but was keen to find ways to continue to deliver courses.
Fees for some courses, such as a diploma in fitness, may have to increase from $2000 to about $8000 to remain viable, she said.
Professor Jones said while some students from low-income families might be eligible for concessions, the cuts would influence their decision on taking up training.
"This will obviously have flow-on effects for future employment and life opportunities. For some students studying in higher-level qualifications, deferred payment through the Commonwealth government's fee help system are available and VU is looking at developing payment plans for students."
Professor Jones said VU was optimistic its restructure would help it deal with the $29million cuts and enable it to provide vocational and higher education. "Victoria University is not yet at the stage of making decisions on which courses and consequently which staff will be impacted. VU will be in close contact with our staff throughout the process."