HOLMESGLEN TAFE could suffer a further round of staff redundancies next year, despite the University of Canberra last week moving to open a campus at its Chadstone headquarters.
Australian Education Union TAFE spokesman, Greg Barclay, said he feared that Holmesglen's increased fees would turn away students and force the TAFE provider to cut jobs to make more savings.
Next year, student fees are expected to rise by about 60 per cent, Holmesglen chief executive Bruce Mackenzie told the Weekly. He also said that the TAFE's future would depend on maintaining its enrolments for next year.
Mr Barclay said that since many TAFE students came from disadvantaged backgrounds they were particularly sensitive to fee increases.
"Our fear is that those fees will actually turn people away, which will mean that in turn, courses are no longer viable and need to be shut down," Mr Barclay said.
"We will probably see another wave of redundancies for our members in February and March next year."
After it lost $30 million in funding from the state government, Holmesglen was forced to make cuts to its staffing levels to save $6 million, resulting in 60 staff redundancies this year.
Mr Mackenzie said there was no need for more savings "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."
Holmesglen won a partial reprieve from the impact of state budget cuts with the University of Canberra announcing it would open a campus at its Chadstone headquarters.
The branch campus, to be known as the University of Canberra Melbourne, will offer 11 new degree courses in areas such as business, commerce, justice, sports management, design, and information technology.
Mr Barclay told the Weekly that the union understood TAFEs were businesses.
"We understand that nearly all of the institutes are having to look at the fees that they charge students to cope with the budget cuts.
"It's a squeeze, it's an absolute squeeze for our members and for the institutes as well."
He blamed the state government for making TAFE courses inaccessible for those who needed them. "For all intents and purposes, this government is hell bent on removing access to programs for low income and disadvantaged students."
University of Canberra vice chancellor Stephen Parker said the Chadstone campus was going to be a very significant tertiary base for the university. "I hope that it is going to be the beginning of something bigger so that the university's programs and Holmesglen programs can be taken nationally together."