The union held 11 forums, including in Joondalup, across WA from October to December to gauge public reaction to the recent increase in fees that has had the price of some courses rise by up to 600 per cent.
Senior vice-president Lincoln Rose described the response. “We heard many stories about how the huge increase in fees has put extraordinary pressure on students and their families, with many struggling to cover the costs,” he said.
Student numbers had dropped by almost 9000 in 2014 and he estimated they had fallen by another 7000 last year.
He said fees would rise again this year, with the maximum price for a diploma set at $7780 in comparison to the 2013 fee cap of $1252.
“This latest fee rise yet again indicates that this government does not consider our Tafe system a priority,” he said.
Training and Workforce Development Minister Liza Harvey hoped the union’s forums yielded “honest and objective discussion” and rose above “partisan scaremongering”. She insisted the State’s training sector was a high priority for the Government.
She referred to the Training Sector Reform Project, announced in October, which reviewed the function and sustainability of “state training providers”, the name the Government now uses for Tafe colleges.
“There has not been a review of this type for many years and I am confident it will result in a contemporary, robust and valued training sector in Western Australia,” she said.
Ms Harvey highlighted the Future Skills WA policy, which subsidises courses the Government sees as important to the State, adding there was a 9 per cent increase in enrolments in those courses.