AEU calls for Parliamentary inquiry into Marshall’s TAFE privatisation

AEU SA Branch media release: Friday 6 November 2020

Following a public announcement of 20 courses cut from TAFE 3 weeks ago, TAFE lecturers this week heard of further cuts, including cuts to courses in motorcycle mechanics and mental health.

“This is privatisation by stealth and ultimately it will be the community who pays”, said AEU SA Branch President Ms Lara Golding.

“This state government talks about the creation of a ‘contestable market’ for vocational education but instead directs TAFE not to compete against private providers.  Private providers are being encouraged to pick up the most profitable courses.”

TAFE SA says it cannot release the criteria for divesting courses to the private sector because of “commercial in confidence” deals.

Preference deals between the government and the private vocational education sector without public scrutiny leaves the Marshall Government open to questions about conflicts of interest and deals made behind closed doors.

Ms Golding has challenged the Government to be honest to the South Australian VET students and the broader community.

“Where taxpayers’ money is involved there must be complete transparency. AEU members call on Premier Marshall to:

  • Outline clearly to the SA community how many TAFE courses will be cut in the next year.
  • Answer why the state government is preventing TAFE from offering courses it has successfully provided for years.
  • Make public the seven criteria used to identify which programs go to profit-driven private providers.
  • Disclose which private providers have been awarded former TAFE programs.
  • Reveal whether all private for profit providers taking up TAFE courses will be based in SA.
  • Inform South Australians about private for profit vocational education providers track records.
  • Explain why students who wish to study at TAFE are being advised through to TAFE to enrol with private RTOs.

“Not only do private providers profit from the taxpayers’ education dollars but they further maximise profits by minimising teaching time while driving up students’ costs. How can this possibly be in the best interests of students in SA?

“The AEU calls upon all parties to support a parliamentary review in to the new arrangements for vocational education in SA to ensure that this government allows TAFE to operate in the best interests of South Australian communities – not the profit interests of private providers.”