Conflicting opinions about TAFE merger

BENDIGO TAFE will merge with the Melbourne-based Kangan Institute.

The TAFE made the announcement last night, releasing a statement that said both institutes would be retained and would maintain their current branding.

Under the proposal, which must first be approved by the State Government, a new Centre of Excellence for Health and Human Services will be developed at the Bendigo TAFE.

The TAFE's statement said that this centre would, "align with and complement the Bendigo Hospital".

"In developing the proposed Centre of Excellence for Health and Human Services, a merged institute would undertake an extensive program of consultation with the Bendigo community and the health services sector," the statement reads.

Bendigo TAFE board chairwoman Margaret O'Rourke said that going forward, the TAFE would focus on three key training sectors, including fashion, automotive and health.

But Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said she was concerned about the announcement because the public had not been informed about what changes the merger would bring about.

"Both of these TAFEs have suffered significant cuts, both of these TAFEs have shed jobs," she said.

"This is not a merger of two TAFEs performing strongly.

"Both TAFEs have had to wield the knife through their budget as a result of Denis Napthine ripping $1.2-billion out of Victorian TAFEs."

A Bendigo TAFE staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she was ambivalent about the merger.

"We've had so many changes already - this is just another one," she said.

"We've been waiting to see how it will affect us. There have been so many staff cuts so I can't be confident there won't be more but I am hoping for long-term benefits. 

"It's better to be optimistic about the whole thing."

She said that most students were not concerned about the merger.

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