COURSES will be slashed, fees will skyrocket and 50 jobs will go as Victoria University scrambles to deal with a $32million TAFE funding black hole.
More than $100million was cut from fee subsidies for courses in the 2012-13 state budget, forcing TAFE providers to hit students with big fee increases or axe courses and jobs.
The changes will severely impact on Victoria University, the biggest education provider in the western suburbs.
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VU will drop animal studies, boatbuilding, and events and tourism courses and slash sports and fitness, hospitality, business and financial services.
Fifty positions will go in the technical trades and workforce development faculties.
Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Anne Jones said difficult decisions had been made to ensure VU's ongoing viability.
She said VU had been taken by surprise by the size of the government's cuts. "We will work hard to minimise the impact on our students and are committed to giving existing students the opportunity to complete their course," she said.
Students who enrol this month are guaranteed 2012 fees until the end of the year. But from next month, diploma fees will increase substantially and other fees will also rise.
Community development teacher Margarita Windisch said the job cuts and loss of courses were devastating for staff and students. "This is the biggest attack we have seen in the sector in the history of Victoria," she said. "It's quite clear their aim is to privatise the whole education sector."
She said the cuts would lead to a drop in quality and lock out students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Western Metropolitan Greens MP Colleen Hartland said VU played an important role in educating young and mature students as well as disadvantaged and newly arrived students in the west.
"For some it will be the end of their educational opportunity," she said. "Staff must tell their families that they no longer have a job. Students will find out that they can't get that much-needed qualification.
"If the government thought the public backlash on this bad decision has been big, now the impacts will be felt and it will grow."
Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall said the government's changes would lead to more people receiving training.
"The simple fact is the Victorian Coalition government is making a record ongoing investment in vocational training while introducing essential reforms designed to save the system from collapse," he said. "The changes refocus Victoria's training system so it's sustainable, relevant and of the quality expected by students and employers."