THE Victorian Greens are calling on the state government and opposition to promise to return "core funding" to TAFE and enforce set standards for private tertiary education providers.
The call came as The Greens announced former Benalla Rural City Council mayor John Brownstein as its candidate for Bendigo West at the November state election.
Speaking in front of Bendigo TAFE Castlemaine campus on Monday, Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the TAFE system in Victoria was "on the brink of collapse".
Just the other day we've heard about people doing a forklift course but never actually sitting on a forklift.Greg Barber
"Things have gotten so bad that it's simply not possible to put back what was once there," he said.
"There's been a rapid flow of government-funded TAFE places out of this region as a result of policies brought in by Labor and continued by the Liberal Party."
Mr Barber proposed an "eminent persons panel" to provide a new model for the future of Victorian TAFE.
He said the approved merger between Bendigo and Kangan institutes was a "symptom" of the deregulation of TAFE under the previous government and cuts under the Coalition government.
The merger between the two institutes was approved in May this year and would include a Centre of Excellence in Health Studies at the McCrae Street campus, among $25 million in upgrades at Bendigo.
The merger would also create 55 courses in health, engineering and management at the Bendigo campus and have a partnership with local health providers.
An Auditor-General's assessment of Victorian TAFE was expected to be released "shortly".
Mr Barber said money was flowing away from country areas towards private providers based in Melbourne.
"Some of those private providers don't really meet the quality we would expect if we went to a not-for-profit, publicly-owned TAFE," he said.
"Just the other day we've heard about people doing a forklift course but never actually sitting on a forklift."
A government spokesperson said the proposed health studies centre at Bendigo/Kangan TAFE was an "exciting" initiative.
He said The Greens relied on "outdated and inferior models for funding and training delivery".
"Bendigo TAFE received $43 million in government funding in 2013," the spokesperson said.
"This is 43 per cent more than the $19.73 million it received in 2010 under Labor."
The Greens candidate for Bendigo West John Brownstein will contest the seat against sitting Labor MP Maree Edwards and Liberal candidate Jack Lyons.