TAFE art course fees to skyrocket

UP TO 20 full-time and part-time jobs will be lost from Lismore TAFE's creative industry faculty alone when $3 million in cuts to North Coast TAFE art courses come into effect next year, according to the NSW Teachers Federation TAFE representative John Stewart.

Mr Stewart, who is also the head teacher at Lismore TAFE's creative industries faculty, said visual arts, fine arts, sculpture and ceramics courses at TAFEs across the state would bear the brunt of the 800 NSW TAFE staff cuts announced by the State Government earlier this month.

While many TAFE faculties would be affected, Mr Stewart said arts courses would be the hardest hit because of the decision to remove government subsidies from them.

"We're going from seven full-time courses down to two or three or none," he said.

Prices for courses would sharply increase with a Certificate IV to cost as much as $12,000 compared to the current cost of just under $1000, he said.

"Course fees will be well beyond the capacity of all but the wealthy to afford," he said.

Mr Stewart said staff were reeling at the depth of the cuts, which came as a surprise.

"They (the courses) have nurtured the creativity of generations of artists in our community and contributed to the wealth of cultural life that our region is famous for."

But North Coast TAFE Institute director Elizabeth McGregor said it was too early to know what impacts the cuts would have as some would be phased in over four years and it was not known how many students would be prepared to pay full fees or would access HECS-type loans.

"We won't really know until our next big intake at the start of next year," Ms McGregor said.

She said TAFE had survived tough budgets and would again.