As a society, we are more educated now, in a formal sense, than at anytime in the nation's history. Many now consider the completion of Year 12 as a basic education. University campuses have grown and enrolments have sky-rocketted. (That many of these numbers include overseas, fee-paying students, is another argument...there are also many more australian students than in previous generations.)
The elevation of many 'technical' institutions to 'universities' and the growth in, Technical and Further Eduation (T.A.F.E.) courses in recent decades have provided many students, who may lack the ability or desire for a university education, with a solid basis for future employment.
Many of these institutions are in regional areas, boosting local economies, providing jobs (both directly and indirectly) for locals, while providing skilled employees.
Regional youth is already disadvantaged in many ways, but access to an appropriate education is one vital key to their success both in a work and personal sense. T.A.F.E. has long been the means for adults to train and retrain, resulting in a better life for themselves and their families.
The Baillieu government recently announced cuts of over $290 million to the T.A.F.E. sector. The most vulnerable campuses are in country Victoria. Although, Mr Hall, the Minister for Higher and Education and Training, was 'hopeful' that regional campuses would remain viable, he could not make any guarantees. Well it is a good thing he didn't, because this week saw the closure of the Lilydale campus of Swinburne. In Gippsland, cuts to the budget and staff positions is putting vocational training, in that area, at risk. Ballarat University is planing to cut its T.A.F.E. activity by 30 - 40%.
What would Premier Baillieu:
- member of the privileged Baillieu-Myer family,
- raised in a mansion in the exclusive suburb of Toorak,
- privately educated at Melbourne Grammar,
- graduate of Melbourne University (when degrees were free...not that a few dollars would have prevented Teddy from studying there - after all, the family has a whole library named after them at this prestigious institution),
- Liberal (right) politician,
- mentoree of Jeff Kennett (who single-handedly decimated the education sector during his stint as Victorian Premier during the 1990s).
- friend of big business and developers,
- member of the Sorrento Golf Club,
- mates with the rich,
know or understand about the lives of disadvantaged rural youth, the single mother wanting a chance to be independent, the unemployed manufacturing worker whose job has gone overseas, or the twenty-something who couldn't access the education system when he/she was a teenager, due to cultural, personal, social, health and welfare issues?
Clearly, not much.
Nor does he seem to care.