BENDIGO TAFE has some hard decisions to make, according to CEO Maria Simpson.
In the wake of Premier Denis Napthine's $200 million funding pledge for "innovation and structural reform" in the Victorian TAFE system, Ms Simpson said the government's response to the TAFE Reform Panel's recommendations provided Bendigo TAFE with major challenges.
“While the government has not imposed structural change such as amalgamation on TAFE institutes, we are required to work with government-appointed facilitators to review a range of options on innovation, collaboration, structural reform and business transformation that would improve our financial sustainability and meet commercial obligations,” she said.
“We are also required to meet a new performance expectation for a return on assets which is a big challenge for Bendigo given our large footprint and heritage infrastructure that is extraordinarily expensive to maintain.
“Bendigo TAFE will work constructively with government and its facilitators to access government funding to review the range of options arising from these reforms.
“We will have no option but to make some very difficult decisions to rationalise our asset base.”
Dr Napthine made the funding announcement while releasing the Independent TAFE Review Panel's report on vocational education, which was commissioned in the wake of last year's cuts.
The increase, which will be spread over four years, will partially reverse about $300 million in cuts inflicted by the Baillieu government in the last budget.
"The funding is designed to assist TAFE institutes in securing their presence within the broader vocational education and training industry," Dr Napthine said.
Ms Simpson said the board would take time to consider its options and reassured students enrolled they wouldn't be affected this year.
“For our students nothing changes this year. We will meet our commitment by delivering the courses they’ve enrolled for in 2013. The needs of our students in future years will be paramount in determining the outcome for the way ahead."
Last year the state government cut an estimated $290 million from the TAFE sector. The Victorian TAFE Association has said that figure included about $170 million in ‘‘full service provider’’ funding, which TAFE institutes use to support students with disabilities and other services such as libraries.
More to come...