ENROLMENTS at TAFE Western Orange campus remain steady according to the TAFE Western Institute director, despite a 15 per cent hike in course costs over two years.
The Greens launched a bill in Orange last week to freeze fee increases and restore government funding back to 2011 levels, claiming course cost increases were making vocational education unaffordable.
In 2012, the average course cost for a government subsidised student to study an advanced diploma was $1570 per year.
In 2014 the average cost rose to $1818.
Enrolment numbers were down from 2013 where 3800 students enrolled compared to 2800 students this year but TAFE Western institute director Kate Baxter said that was because last year there were an additional two “specific purpose training programs”.
Those courses had 1100 students enrolled but were not needed this year.
Ms Baxter said she expected the number of enrolments to increase because despite classes starting last week, it was not too late for students to enrol.
“With more than 10,600 enrolments across the region so far, and 2800 students enrolled in Orange, demand for training appears to be strong this year,” she said.
Ms Baxter said TAFE Western has noted a change in the way students are undertaking training with more than 1500 students enrolled in TAFE Western connect courses which are delivered online.
This is an increase on the 1100 enrolments at about this time last year, she said.
The Greens argue fewer courses will be funded by the government, meaning certain courses could cost students in excess of $10,000.
In Orange the fine arts course suffered that fate last year.
TAFE community alliance spokesperson Kevin Heys said it was important to maintain funding levels for TAFE because the face to face services offered such as counselling and outreach programs to assist students to succeed were too important to lose.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee twice said he was unavailable to answer questions last week but issued a statement.
The statement was: TAFE Western was seeking new initiatives to meet the needs of the region, such as through the online courses offered. He said changes were expected to TAFE’s delivery this year but there would not be any significant reduction in training.