TAFE students have to dig a little deeper this year

FROM January 1, TAFE NSW students face increased enrolment fees and students aiming to complete a Fine Arts course will also have to dig deeper.

NSW government education budget cuts, announced last September, came into play at the beginning of this year and threaten to have a negative impact on student numbers.

TAFE NSW spokesman Mark Davis said TAFE NSW was doing its utmost to limit the impact of the cuts and was looking to repackage some of its courses to make them more appealing to students.

"The two main changes are a 9.5% increase in enrolment fees and the cancellation of all government subsidies for Fine Arts courses," Mr Davis said.

"Students will have to pay the true cost of a Fine Arts course."

Fine Arts diploma and advanced diploma students did have the opportunity to apply for Vocational Education and Training (VET) fee help which, not unlike the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), provided loans to students to allow them to complete their courses.

Once the students found gainful employment, the loan would have to be repaid.

However, the news isn't all bad with students including those on Commonwealth benefits, disabled students and students from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, still receiving fee concessions and exemptions.

"TAFE NSW still offers the most generous fee concessions and exemptions compared to other states and territories," Mr Davis said.

"A certificate 4 student, for instance, faces an increase of less than $100.

"TAFE NSW needs to remain competitive as there are plenty of private competitors."

The NSW government's prioritisation of education in last year's state budget was designed to ensure TAFE was operating efficiently, remained competitive and focused its training in areas of jobs growth.

According to the NSW state government, the cuts were necessary to ensure NSW keeps its AAA credit rating and lives within its means.

Topics:  fees tafe

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