Hundreds of TAFE teachers will lose their jobs while some course fees could rise by up to 300 per cent under changes announced by the NSW government, the TAFE Teachers Federation said yesterday.
Union organiser for the Illawarra TAFE Institute Terry Keeley said the government had approved fee increases of about 9.5 per cent for students enrolling in government-supported courses in 2013, while the student concession fee would rise by almost 100 per cent from $53 to $100 from January 1.
He said students in fine arts courses including sculpture, visual arts and ceramics were the worst off, with the government no longer prepared to subsidise these courses from next year.
A diploma now costing $1308 annually could rise to $5000.
"This is another broken election promise from this government," Mr Keeley said.
"Prior to this election they guaranteed an investment in TAFE funding and in quality teaching, and (said) they would ensure affordable access for all.
"Now in a stroke of a pen, they have ensured that 800 teaching jobs will be cut over the next four years - that's 20 per cent of the workforce - which will probably mean up to 100 jobs will go at Illawarra campuses.
"They've increased fees to the lower-end courses, to the students who most need an education, by almost doubling the concession fee, and fees will rise in all courses.
"And they will no longer subsidise fine arts courses, which will have a ceiling of $5000 per year, meaning student enrolments will drop and eventually these courses will be cut altogether."
The government said TAFE NSW fees for government-subsidised courses continued to be lower than fees charged in many other states and territories.
The annual increase will range from $44 for certificate I and II courses (rising from $462 to $506) to $150 for an advanced diploma (increasing from $1570 to $1720).
The fine arts courses would no longer be subsidised because these were "areas of low employment growth".
Save TAFE Illawarra spokeswoman and West Wollongong fine arts student Kate Morris said students were devastated by the announcement, with many forced to reconsider their options.
"If the fees rise too much, I won't be able to come back next year and complete my course, and many will be in the same position," she said.
"It will limit access and will mostly affect people who are financially disadvantaged including those on disabled and carers' pensions."
TAFE Illawarra management said fees would be released when programs were finalised, and alternative options considered.