Where did all the students go?
Where did all the students go?

Where did Warwick TAFE go?

THE full extent of cutbacks at the Warwick TAFE campus continues to come to light as the academic term draws on.

While basic facilities continue to be funnelled to Toowoomba and off-campus, the question remains, who is responsible for the multi-million dollar under-utilised facility?

As it stands, the Warwick TAFE consists of 28 administration staff, the highest-ranking on campus at A04-mid-level on the State Government's corporate office administrative stream.

The last business manager present at the facility was made redundant in January this year. Finally, fewer than half the 89 courses listed on the campus prospectus are in fact available at the site, according to the campus administration office.

Now under the umbrella of the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE and the Bremer Institute of TAFE, the campus itself is without a local head.

However, when contacted about the cutbacks a spokesman for the Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek simply stated: "These matters are managed at a local level".

While it is understood the Bremer and SQIT amalgamation will become a statutory institution in coming months, this responsibility isn't passed from State Government until July 1.

The transition was originally proposed as part of the new strategic plan for the SQIT 2010-2013 and on recommendation of a report by the Ministerial Industry Commission, in March this year.

This commission itself is made up of State Government-invited leaders in business, industry and academia.

According to Institute Director for SQIT and The Bremer Institute of TAFE, Trevor Schwenke, "There has been a considerable decrease in the use of trade facilities at the Warwick Campus, which prompted a change in the delivery mode of a number of courses".

However, this does not explain the lack of community consultation leaving current employers, TAFE students, tutors, staff members and the local community in the dark.

Urgent meeting

In light of inquiries by the Daily News, local Member Lawrence Springborg has approached Education Minister John Paul-Langbroek to hold an urgent community information session regarding the Warwick TAFE.

"I have been made aware of issues surrounding the Warwick TAFE. I understand that transitioning entities, such as TAFE, to new models will always be difficult," Mr Springborg said.

"At the same time, I am concerned that important information is not being communicated effectively to those impacted by changes."

A past tutor who asked not to be named said the situation had been building up unnoticed for years.

He speculated that the Warwick campus's future might be as an administrative body "pulling in traineeships and revenue".

"There has been an apparent demise at the TAFE caused by the letting of the training dollar from public tender to private providers," he told the Daily News.

"Now every man and his dog are trainers."

The private educators were also an issue for another unnamed employee previously a member involved in the campus administration.

"Unfortunately for Warwick the TAFE is an excellent facility not being utilised. Instead we have a government-driven cheaper option," he said. "You can't drive around from business to business, throw a few books at an apprentice and say 'here you are'. That's not a decent way to teach skills especially to do with trades.

"Over the past couple of years you never knew how long your job was going to last."

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