Monday, 4 February 2013

Art in TAFE: Impacts of the Funding Cuts in NSW and Victoria

Last September the NSW government announced it was discontinuing funding for fine arts courses in TAFE, effective 1 January 2013. The government justified these funding cuts with the argument that employment outcomes for fine arts TAFE graduates are low.

NSW TAFE advocate group Our Tafe has published a comprehensive factsheet outlining the predicted impacts of the NSW cuts and highlighting the varied employment outcomes for visual artists that are not always immediately measurable, including self-employment and professional involvement in an interdependent web of businesses and services in the arts industry, a sector which, as has been noted frequently in this debate, contributes $30 billion a year to Australia's GDP.

While it is difficult to argue that there are really no employment opportunities for arts graduates, there will certainly be fewer opportunities in NSW following the cuts, with 200 teaching jobs expected to be cut from fine arts programs in NSW TAFEs.

Well, here we are on the other side of the new year, and TAFEs in NSW are reportedly already feeling the impacts of the cuts. According to the Save TAFE campaign, with fees finalised in December, fine arts courses were left with an extremely short turnaround to publicise courses and attract enrolments for 2013. Save TAFE reports that:

"the new national curriculum has split the existing two-year Diploma course into a Certificate IV and then a Diploma. VET Fee Help is not available for Certificate courses, and many students straight from high school cannot afford up front fees of around $6000–8000 for a Certificate IV, so their pathway into art training is blocked. In a further blow to affordability, the number of hours making up a full time course have been halved to 16, which falls below the hours required for a student concession on public transport.
The sudden drop in student numbers will result in the loss of artist/teachers across the state. Already many part-time staff have lost all teaching hours and by the end of March it is likely that many art schools will be unable to maintain full time positions. Schools in rural and regional centres are likely to close. Disadvantage in rural and regional areas is again highlighted – there are few alternatives for studying even if people could afford the fees."

NSW TAFE students, teachers and supporters are continuing the fight to reverse the cuts. NAVA (The National Association for the Visual Arts) is reportedly forming an industry action group to advocate for arts education in NSW and nationwide.

If you are eligible to vote in NSW and have not yet signed the petition, show your support here. If you live in NSW you can also download a printable petition to collect signatures. Petitions will be presented to Parliament on 21 March, so be sure to sign and return your petitions to the address on the form before then. You can also show your support by calling on Insight and Q&A to run a program addressing de-funding of TAFEs across Australia's eastern states, emailing the NSW government, or attending a rally. NSW Save TAFE is planning a rally at Parliament House on 21 March: stay tuned via their website.

Meanwhile in Victoria, VTAC (the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre) has released figures showing a 25.8% drop in TAFE applications this year, following the Baillieu government's $300 million funding cuts last year. The figures also show that 170 fewer TAFE courses are being offered this year. Although VTAC admissions account for only a small percentage of TAFE enrolments, the figures are a telling sign of the ongoing impacts of the cuts, adding to the damage already done last year with the course and campus closures announced throughout 2012. We'll know more as the year goes on.

At NMIT, the Advanced Diploma of Jewellery continues and classes started last week. Welcome to the new Advanced Diploma class of 2014!

1 comment:

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