BENDIGO TAFE chief executive officer Maria Simpson has fired the first shots in what is setting out to be a tough fight with private vocational trainers.
About $9 million has been ripped out of Bendigo TAFE's budget as part of the redistribution of vocational education and training finding by the State Government.
About 100 Bendigo staff will lose their jobs by the end of the year, and 39 courses will be cut.
TAFEs are now competing with more than 500 private colleges, all with significantly lower overheads and staff costs.
Talking on Bendigo IPTv, Ms Simpson took the moral high ground against the private colleges, saying for Bendigo TAFE it was more than just about the bottom line.
She said she had decided to keep a number of courses that weren't profitable, but were for the good of students who needed it most.
"There are some courses that we will run that will never meet their costs," she said.
"This is a really important thing and it is what distinguishes TAFE from a private training organisation.
"The things we decided to keep were language courses, literacy courses, numeracy courses, the sorts of courses we wrap around students who will otherwise struggle with their trade studies or with their other areas of study, but are really fundamentally important to help them have success and to stay as students and not drop out of a course because it becomes too hard."
Ms Simpson also said her management team was keen to keep as many student services as possible, something private colleges don't spend money on.
"There are also areas like student support services that we provide that others don’," she said.
"They are available to students as they need them. They are not there for every student, but those who need them find them vitally important and extremely helpful.
"They never return money. You don't earn anything for those services, but those services are critically important to success for large numbers of young learners especially, and new learners who come back from a long time away from the workforce or a long time away from learning.
"We as an organisation .. decided they were really important to us and we would bear those costs."
Ms Simpson urged the local community to support a facility that took this position, and choose Bendigo TAFE.
"In terms of competing it really is a challenge to the community," she said.
"People in the community say TAFE is really important and they are shocked by all of the change that is occurring. If they truly value TAFE, if they truly think TAFEis an important thing for the community, then we are the people they should come to for their training.
"They should be sending their apprentices to us, they should be sending their trainees to us and if they are studying themselves they should be coming to us.
"To the wider community, if you believe in us, come top us, send your students to us. Our doors are always open and we have more than 100 courses operating."
To see the full interview go to www.bendigoiptv.com