Greens fight to save local TAFE
UPDATE: 9.05am October 13
NORTH Coast Institute of TAFE director Elizabeth McGregor has reiterated the institute would not be leaving town, even if the campus closes.,
"Our buildings might change, but we are not leaving town," Ms McGregor said.
Initial report: 3.11pm October 12
GREENS candidate for Richmond Dawn Walker visited Murwillumbah TAFE on Monday as part of the national Hands Off TAFE day of action.
The day of action coincided with the final public hearing of the NSW Upper House inquiry into vocation education and training.
Greens supporter Ari Ehrlich said he was pleased many people signed a petition to retain 85% of TAFE funding.
"It's really vital to keep a presence here," Mr Ehrlich said.
Ms Walker said she had received a strong response, and spoken to staff and students in relation to their concerns.
North Coast TAFE director Elizabeth McGregor previously told the Tweed Daily News the proposed Murwillumbah TAFE sell-off was in response to changing learning requirements, and a heightened level of external, online learning.
But Ms Walker said her discussions with teachers and students revealed online learning wasn't necessarily the way of the future.
"The students I spoke to really valued being able to come to a campus and interact face-to-face with teachers and fellow students," she said.
Ms Walker said an increase to TAFE course fees was seeing students less inclined to sign up for courses.
"TAFE closures pave the way for private operators, who concentrate on areas that are profitable, even if this doesn't match the skills needed," she said.
"Our region needs more vocational education options, not less."
Ms Walker said she also spoke to administration staff, who'd recently been told their jobs would be re-advertised at a lower rate.
She said it was not acceptable for the jobs and training institution to be lost.
"It's appalling," she said.
"Agriculture needs improved skills training, yet the government is rolling out increased fees and campus closures.
"Murwillumbah TAFE holds an important place in the Murwillumbah community, and is recognised as a quality skills provider in the community.
"It would be a tragedy for the Nationals to allow it to close."
The North Coast Institute of TAFE and Nationals MP for Lismore Thomas George were approached for comment.