Why 70% – TAFE and government funding
April 26, 2016 9 Comments
First things first. I am a supporter of a properly funded, efficient and effective public provider system (TAFE) in Vocational Education and Training. I have always said, as those of you who read my blog regularly will know that TAFE can and does do fantastic things and should be supported to do those things. So that being said let me move on to what I want to talk about today.
For about a week a now I have been trying to get an answer to what I thought would be a fairly simple question. In fact when I first asked it on social media early last week, I expected to be inundated with responses telling me what the answer was and where to find the information that I sought. Instead no one said anything, there was no response at all, which I found to be a little surprising. So I took my question and I asked around a little more privately in case there was something I was missing, what I got was some vague references to the education unions and the AEU. So I thought I will ask the AEU then and I got no response. So then yesterday, I thought surely someone on LinkedIn will know the answer so again I asked and again the best answer I got seemed to references to the AEU and there stop TAFE cuts campaign, but no actual answer to my question.
So what you may well ask was my question? Is was simply;
Where did this figure of 70% of Government funding come from?
To explain what I mean. There has been quite a lot of publicity lately from the Education unions, some politicians and from people with the TAFE system about TAFE getting 70% of all government funding. Now depending on the post or the article or speech you listen to the words around the 70% change, need, require, should get, even deserves have been words I have seen associated with it. The guts of the argument appears to be that TAFE should get 70% of all government funding because it needs to have that much in order to provide the service it needs to provide. Now if TAFE needs that sum of money, whatever that actual figure is (and I might touch on that later), to operate effectively and efficiently and provide Australians with a good return on money we put into it, then I am not averse to that. So what may you ask is my problem?
My problem is I want to see the figures. I simply want to know who came up with it and using what data. Where are the figures, or the report or the research that sits behind this idea that TAFE should get 70% of government funding. Now remember I am not saying it shouldn’t. I am simply saying show me the figures. I want to see the research. Why do I want to know this? Well a couple of reasons really, firstly I (as some of you might have noticed) like to troll through data and see what pops up. Secondly given the amount of money (across all states and commonwealth) that we are talking about here, I want to know its right. I want to know if someone figured out how much it cost to run all of the TAFEs in all of the states (I would love to know what that figure was too) and found out it was around 70% of the total VET budget for that year and went well that’s how much they need, or if they looked at unit costs and enrollments and additional services and infrastructure and maintenance costs and ran it through a formula and came up with a figure which turns out to be about 70% of government funding.
The other problem is this. Surely any kind of formula or calculation would have come up with a dollar figure rather than a percentage figure. So if it turns out that TAFE requires 70% of the current budget of government funding and a government then decides that it is going to add say $100 million to the amount of funding what should happen to that additional money. Food for thought I think.
Here is the thing I want to know where this figure came from, so I am formally issuing a challenge to anyone one in any of the Unions, or Sharon Bird MP or Bill Shorten himself, The Greens, or who ever, to tell me where this figure comes from. Here is the deal as well, if this is just an ideological position, or a ‘well we can actually say we think we should have all of it because no one will wear that position,’ I don’t actually care. I really just want someone to tell me what this figure is and what it actually means and I will take an answer from anyone about where this figure comes from. However, I am pretty sure that if none responds, and no one can show me where this 70% came from then that is an answer in and of itself.
Anyway that’s just my opinion.