Want to study for free? Here’s how
FUTURE accountants, dental assistants, engineers, nurses, plumbers, bartenders and disability workers take note. If you want to study for free, the time is now.
The Victorian government this week announced it'll make dozens of TAFE courses and pre-apprenticeships completely free starting in 2019. The state Budget measure aims to turn around an education system Premier Daniel Andrews says has been "on its knees".
The election-year financial plan unveiled on Tuesday by Treasurer Tim Pallas includes $172 million for almost 50 free courses to help alleviate skills shortages.
"Part of the challenge is to make TAFE more appealing to more people," Mr Andrews said during a victory lap of sorts around Holmesglen TAFE at Moorabbin, in Melbourne's southeast. "One of the ways you do that is to make those priority courses free. This is profound reform. It is exactly what we need."
The free tuition is on offer for Victorians as well as those willing to move from interstate, but won't be available for international students. Detractors say the plan should have included an obligation for those studying from elsewhere to stay in Victoria after they receive their qualification.
Mr Pallis said such a measure would be an unreasonable restriction.
JUST ANNOUNCED:— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) May 1, 2018
From next year, all these major TAFE qualifications and apprenticeship pathways will cost you nothing to complete in Victoria. That's right. No course fees. Nothing. Free. #VicBudget pic.twitter.com/rNYfyvHtvQ
"We live in a democracy, people have a free right of movement around this country and it's not going to be this government's intention to try and put a prohibition on that," Mr Pallas told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday.
"Turn up, get yourself an education (but) the reason they'll stay here, by the way, is there's all this work going on, I mean $13.7 billion worth of infrastructure this year.
"We believe we'll see something like (an increased demand of) 30,000 ... for these places and we expect that some of those people will be from interstate, but the vast majority will be Victorians. And of course the people who move from interstate, we hope they stay."
Those wanting to take part in the free study offer need only apply as usual. Details about where the courses will be offered have not yet been revealed, nor have the composition of an additional 10 priority courses. But the courses already outlined are expected to save students anywhere between a few hundred and several thousands of dollars.
They're being offered in industries the government hopes will boom in the next few years.
The budget allocates $304 million for new classes and more than 30,000 new TAFE places.
Mr Pallas said Victoria previously benefited from skilled migration as the mining construction boom in WA slowed and "now we have to build the homegrown product".
"It's about making sure that we get the skills that the economy needs," he told reporters.
"As we make these investments we would anticipate that we would see more and more people attracted to the sort of technical skills and activities that are going on."
The education blitz also includes $120 million for regional TAFE upgrades and $44 million to modernise apprenticeships.
The TAFE sector in Victoria is still recovering from the previous government's funding cuts. In 2013, 10 TAFE board chairs were sacked and by 2017 TAFE enrolments had dropped by 40 per cent.
Campuses were closed and a number of courses were cut, leaving students stranded. Mr Andrews said his government is turning the system around.
"(The Opposition should) apologise for what they did to TAFE for the four years when they were in power," he said on Wednesday.
"They have no credibility when it comes to trades, vocational education and training, or, for that matter, building things ... we are so far away from what we inherited."
The measure has been warmly received. Queenslander Bronwyn Dixon wrote the "fantastic" idea should be offered in her state too, before tagging Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
- With AAP