Minister welcomes increased enrolments

DESPITE figures from the Victorian Centre for Tertiary Admissions showing TAFE applications had tumbled 25.8 per cent this year, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Peter Hall said only a fraction of TAFE enrolments occurred through VTAC.

Speaking to The Express after the Gippsland Tertiary Education Council industry forum in Traralgon last week, Mr Hall said only two per cent of TAFE enrolments came through VTAC.

"The vast majority of enrolments are through people going directly (to the TAFEs) or online," Mr Hall said.

"There is some reduction, but we are not concerned...it will be at least another month before we can see the enrolment trends (for 2013)."

Mr Hall said in Gippsland, enrolments had risen by eight per cent in the third quarter of 2012 from the previous year.

"This includes the period after the (state) budget announcements; these figures are typical across Victoria so it's encouraging there is no (significant) decrease," he said.

According to Gippsland Training Dashboard statistics, government-subsidised enrolments between the third quarter of 2011 and 2012 had seen student numbers rise by five per cent and the number of hours rise 14 per cent.

The number of providers has also risen by 26 per cent, according to the figures.

However, over a longer period, from 2008 to 2011 enrolments decreased by 23 per cent and student numbers had fallen 17 per cent.

The government data further showed about 35 per cent of enrolments in Gippsland were in areas of skills shortages including health and social services as well as construction trades courses as at the third quarter of last year.

Meanwhile, Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE board president David Gittins said the institute would not know its final enrolment numbers until the second and third rounds of university offers had been sent out.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed; we do anticipate some fallout with programs we have not been able to offer, but we hope to convert some of those (affected students) to programs we do have," Mr Gittins, who also attended the forum, said.

In terms of staff numbers, Mr Gittins acknowledged there had been a decrease across the board, including staff in management positions.

"In total, our staff numbers are down by about 100 people due to attrition and redundancies, and not all are teaching staff," he said.

"(These challenges) have made us more innovative; it is a period to consolidate and look at other ways of delivering our courses."

He said GippsTAFE was delivering more tertiary courses, with a high concentration on diplomas.

"The road ahead has got a few rocks in it, but we know where we're going, and with collaboration with other TAFEs and universities, it will make tomorrow a lot brighter."

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