HOLMESGLEN TAFE still faces more than six months of uncertainty despite an announcement earlier this week that the University of Canberra will open a campus at its Chadstone headquarters.
This afternoon Holmesglen chief executive Bruce Mackenzie told workers that the TAFE’s future would depend on the number of enrolments for next year.
‘‘It’s a bit difficult to determine how effective our 2013 strategies will be because the greatest unknown for us is the impact of fees on student enrolments,’’ Mr Mackenzie said.
‘‘We’re in a very difficult environment. The most challenging any of us have ever seen in this industry.’’
Next year, student fees are expected to increase by about 60 per cent.
But Mr Mackenzie told the Weekly he didn’t expect the fee hike to affect student numbers.
‘‘People must be expecting some form of fee increase,’’ he said.
After it lost $30 million in funding from the state government, Holmesglen was forced to make cuts to its staffing levels in order to save $6 million, resulting in 60 staff redundancies this year.
‘‘We can hold it at that level provided that we capture enrolments and we capture fees. We’re trying to minimise the impact on staff and students and that’s why we’ve dragged money from everywhere we can.’’
On Wednesday, Holmesglen won a partial reprieve from the impact of the state government’s budget cut with the University of Canberra announcing it will open a campus at its Chadstone headquarters.
The branch campus, to be known as the University of Canberra Melbourne, will offer 11 new degrees from next year.
The Commonwealth-funded degrees will include the study areas of business, commerce, justice, sports management, design, and information technology.
Before the announcement fees were forecast to double.
Mr Mackenzie said the new campus would open up greater opportunities for students.
‘‘Our students can currently do degrees at Holmesglen, but with the exception of nursing and early childhood, they’ve got to pay full fees. Now they won’t have to.’’
The announcement of the new campus comes after leaked cabinet documents revealed the extent of cost-cutting measures after the Baillieu government slashed millions of dollars of funding to TAFE providers across the state.
The new initiative will result in about 30 staff re-employed as part of the degree programs.
‘‘What this announcement will do though is it will give confidence to the TAFE sector that Victorian TAFE is still a very strong, powerful organisation. It’s still the most innovative in this country,’’ Mr Mackenzie said.
He said the deal had been in the pipeline for the past seven months, well before Holmeslgen realised it would bear the brunt of $30 million cut in funding.
‘‘Holmesglen was never going to be in any difficulty.’’
University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker said the situation was a win-win.
‘‘I hope that it will be the beginning of something even bigger so that [University of Canberra] and Holmeslgen programs can be taken nationally together,’’ Professor Parker said.
‘‘This particular campus in Chadstone, when it adds to its higher education scale through UC, is going to be a very significant tertiary base.’’