TAFE fees increase 7000%: Labor

The NSW government's Smart and Skilled TAFE reforms have increased fees almost 7000 per cent for some courses, according to Labor Party calculations.

Figures supplied by Wollongong MP Noreen Hay show a 6900 per cent price hike for a diploma of air-conditioning and refrigeration engineering.

The fees for concession holders jumped from $104 in 2011 to $7280 in 2015.

Courses in critical skill shortage areas also had staggering fee hikes for concession holders.

A diploma of early childhood education and care was listed as costing a concession holder $4380 in 2015 compared with $104 in 2011.

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"For average students completing their first TAFE course, fees have spiked by between 40 and 198 per cent over the last four years," Ms Hay said. "I have been to the TAFE to speak with Teachers Federation representatives, staff and students, all who are feeling the pressure of this exorbitant price hike," she said

A spokesperson for the Minister of Education denied fee hikes would prevent students from seeking out tertiary education as "generous fee concessions and exemptions" were available for concession holders.

However, the current fee estimate provided on the TAFE Smart and Skilled site displayed the increased price of $4380 for a diploma of nursing if the student received government benefits, an increase of 4112 per cent from 2011.

"Our reforms are designed to make it easier for young people to enter training and gain valuable skills," Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.

The Baird government's Smart and Skilled program has been attacked separately during the election by Labor, Greens and independent candidates in the Illawarra.

Opposition education spokesman Ryan Park appeared with Labor leader Luke Foley earlier in the week to announce Labor's $100 million TAFE Rescue Plan. "Every day we depend in some way on the services and support of someone who has vocational qualifications - whether it is the plumber who fixes a leak, the hairdresser who cuts our hair, or the mechanic who fixes our car," he said.

"Labor will reverse these fee increases and ensure TAFE is well funded by limiting the portion of public funding that can be contested by the private sector."

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