Concerns over the future of Dapto TAFE have been raised in State Parliament after a decline in student enrolments and the closure of several services on campus.
Shellharbour MP Anna Watson called on Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to detail the extent of the cuts after the campus library was axed earlier this year and its canteen was more recently closed.
Figures provided by Mr Piccoli’s office show enrolments fell from 658 in 2010 to 348 in 2012.
Neither the minister’s office nor TAFE Illawarra would provide enrolment figures for this year.
Staff numbers fell from 111 in 2010 to 97 this year.
Ms Watson said the declines suggested the facility was ‘‘under threat’’ and were of concern given Dapto and West Dapto were key growth areas in the southern Illawarra.
‘‘I am not suggesting that Dapto TAFE campus is closing or will close, but I am deeply concerned by the declining trends in student enrolments, staff numbers and cuts to services at the campus and I wanted to place my concerns on the record in this place,’’ Ms Watson told Parliament.
‘‘Nothing would please me more than receiving a reassurance that my concerns are misplaced.’’
Dapto campus offers five ‘‘foundation skill’’ programs – courses designed to make students more employable or prepare them for further education and training – and two certificate-level courses in information, digital media and technology, and retail operations.
Ms Watson said the course offerings should be increased.
‘‘It’s one of the fastest-growing areas across the nation and there’s one IT class for the whole of Dapto, and no library,’’ she said.
In his response, Mr Piccoli said the Education Department had not sought market valuation for the Dapto campus and that ‘‘all services offered at Dapto campus continue in 2013, including access to learning resources, which have been placed in relevant teaching sections’’.
TAFE Illawarra Institute director Dianne Murray was unavailable for comment yesterday.
She will meet Ms Watson next week to discuss the concerns.
A spokeswoman for Ms Murray did not answer questions on the issue but said programs and enrolments linked to community services, health services and primary industries had expanded at Shellharbour and Yallah campuses.
‘‘TAFE Illawarra continually reviews its course offering profile and delivery to ensure that the range of courses align with career opportunities for students in the region,’’ a statement read.
TAFE teachers and supporters gathered in protest outside NSW Liberal MP Geoff Lee’s Parramatta’s office yesterday.
NSW Teachers Federation assistant general secretary Maxine Sharkey said the sector was facing up to 800 job losses over the next four years and had already seen more than 100 teachers take voluntary redundancies.
Course times were also being slashed in a bid to cut costs, she said.