'Distress' as Vic Uni staff axings continue

ANOTHER 50-plus staff members at Victoria University will lose their jobs this year, as fallout from the state government's $40 million funding cuts continues.

The axing of 59 positions was announced by VU in late December, bringing the total number of job losses to more than 450.

National Tertiary Education Union president Paul Adams said TAFE teachers, academics and administrative staff were among those set to lose their jobs. Trades teachers had been targeted by the most recent cuts. 

Another 30 contracts for staff involved in VCE, English as a Second Language and literacy would not be renewed because the university could no longer afford to pay staff.

"These cuts have been absorbed by the whole university," Mr Adams said. "Staff not even located in the nine main areas that have been cut are still losing their jobs; it's very distressing."

As reported by the Weekly, 99 TAFE teachers, 150 administration staff, 30 academics and 120 general staff had already lost their jobs after the government slashed funding to VU in last year's state budget.

"Victoria University educates some of Victoria's most vulnerable and lower socioeconomic students," Mr Adams said. "About half our students are from a non-English-speaking background. The government has talked about how it's increased funding for apprenticeships, but it neglected to discuss cuts to institutional funding across the west in mischievous attempts to confuse people."

Friends of Victoria University spokesman Iain McIntyre said that with VU forced to reduce course delivery and end teaching in areas like hospitality and tourism, many Brimbank students would have no option but to attend a private training provider. 

"Private colleges exist to make as much money as they can get out of the system and few offer facilities such as libraries, childcare and workshops or employ support staff to provide welfare, disability and career support as TAFE colleges do."

In December, Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall said the government would invest almost $5 billion in training subsidies over the next four years. 

"If Victoria University were to shift its government-funded course delivery into apprenticeships and courses in skills shortage areas that now receive significantly increased subsidy rates, the university would be $33.7 million better off, compared to delivering the same courses in 2012 as it did in 2011."

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