THE government yesterday announced it will provide an extra $200 million in TAFE funding over four years, meaning all Victoria’s regional TAFEs can remain open.
The new funding will be allocated to TAFEs to undertake innovation and structural reforms.
The move comes less than 12 months after the government cut $300 million from vocational training and follows the government’s acceptance of most of the recommendations made from the TAFE Review Panel.
Bendigo TAFE chief executive Maria Simpson was yesterday trying to get her head around what the funding would mean for the future and described the past few months as “a very interesting period”.
She said Bendigo TAFE would work towards the best possible outcome for the region in its response to government decisions that require structural and asset reform of the Victorian TAFE system.
“For Bendigo (the recommendations) mean that we will be faced with some considerable challenges going forward, especially in terms of the requirement to work with the government on structural and asset reviews,” she said.
“Some of the new commercial arrangements that the government is looking at putting in place will pose a challenge for us especially to gain a return on assets.
“So we will ensure that we work closely with government, access the funds that they’re making available to get the best possible outcome for delivery in Bendigo for students in our region.”
Ms Simpson said while the government had not imposed structural change such as amalgamation of TAFE institutes, there was a requirement to work with government appointed facilitators to review a range of options on innovation, collaborations, structural reform and business transformation.
The new requirements are designed to improve financial sustainability and meet commercial obligations.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Ms Simpson said Bendigo TAFE would investigate collaborative partnerships and commercial arrangements with other education providers and that new governance arrangements for boards might mean a shake up of the existing board.
“I think with any review like that that’s been undertaken by the government you anticipate that change will be an outcome but it was uncertain how much change, or the degree of change, that would be required,” she said.
“I know the government hasn’t actually said that amalgamations will be necessary... there is a requirement that we work with government facilitators to look at innovative, more collaborative, different business structures and business transformation going forward.
“We’re not sure what that will mean for us. We will need to work very closely with them but we’ll find the best solution within all of that for Bendigo and this region and the students.”
Ms Simpson confirmed the delivery of services to students in 2013 would not be compromised by the government’s announcement.
Related coverage: Edwards slams 'crumbs' funding