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TAFE merger not on table

The head of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE has said the institute is in a solid financial position and there was no truth to the rumours it would merge with Wodonga TAFE.

ALEXANDRA BOLKAS April 9, 2014 3:38am

Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE’s head has denied rumours the tertiary education provider will merge with Wodonga TAFE.

Australian Education Union TAFE and adult provision vice-president Greg Barclay said rumours of a merger between the institute and Wodonga TAFE were strong among campus staff members.

His comments came after AEU claimed seven out of 14 Victorian TAFE colleges were in deficit after significant state government funding cuts.

Institute chief executive Paul Culpan said the college had discussed a possible merger with Wodonga TAFE, but a formal decision had not been reached.

‘‘There have been talks as part of a TAFE Structural Adjustment Fund process discussion around integration, but at this point there hasn’t been any decision about a merger,’’ Mr Culpan said.

He said the institute was not in deficit and had strong financial reserves, with more than 9000 enrolments last year.

‘‘As demonstrated as part of our annual report tabled to parliament, GOTAFE is an a strong financial position,’’ he said.

But Mr Barclay said the Coalition Government had cut $300million a year from the TAFE sector since 2012, which undermined the public system.

He said the rumours of college closures and mergers were rife in times of financial uncertainty.

‘‘Last week we were told rumours were alive and well about a merger between GOTAFE and Wodonga TAFE, although we’re yet to see anything official,’’ he said.

‘‘Rumours further undermine public confidence in the public TAFE system and its ability to provide for the local economy and community.’’

Mr Barclay said funding cuts had forced TAFEs to increase course fees, which affected accessibility.

‘‘We’ve seen fees steadily increase in the last three years as the government has cut funding, which has a huge impact on accessibility,’’ he said.

‘‘You hear anecdotally about students who turn up to enrol, find out about the fees, don’t complete their enrolment and walk out.’’

Mr Culpan said some institute course fees had changed to take into account the cost of delivery.

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