Learning at any age
Australia used to have a state-supported vocational education system that was the envy of the world but recent policy changes and funding cuts around the country have broken the TAFE system.
These cuts to TAFE funding and the resulting increases in student fees have put further education out of reach for thousands of people, and with it the hope of a first job, an end to long term unemployment and a fresh start.
In 2012, in response to the Victorian State Government cuts to TAFE funding, ALIA and the Victorian Association of TAFE Libraries stated: 'Well-resourced libraries, staffed by information professionals, are an integral part of the student experience and play a critical role in teaching, learning and training. TAFE students must not be short-changed compared with university students. We see this as an issue of social justice.' In 2014, we outlined a similar disparity between the library provision for TAFE and university students in New South Wales. We found that library funding for TAFE students was less than 6% of that for university students.
We are concerned on two fronts: student access to well-resourced libraries and affordabile library and information science Diploma courses in VET institutions.
What we are doing
ALIA's submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Role of Technical and Further Education system and its operation in April 2014 set out our case to government:
- TAFE libraries: We are particularly concerned that federal and state and territory governments undervalue the important and complex role of TAFE libraries in supporting VET courses and the need for qualified library and information professionals to support students, especially with their research and digital information literacy. Without library and information professionals, there is no guarantee that TAFE teachers and students are accessing the very latest information – especially important when it comes to current standards and regulations.
- TAFE entry point to the profession: ALIA is a professional association, with two categories of professional members, Associates (degree or higher) and Library Technician (certificate or diploma). Library Technicians play a significant role in the library and information sector and one which has increased over the last 20 years. It is imperative that there remains an affordable, achievable VET entry point to professional status in our sector.
Campaign success with Scrap the Cap
In 2013, ALIA joined 25 other professional peak bodies opposing a proposed Federal Government cap of $2,000 per year on tax deductions for self-education.
The cap was proposed by the Treasury in order to help fund the Gonski education reforms.
The Federal Government backed down and there continues to be no cap for deductible self-education expenses which include tuition fees, registration fees, textbooks, travel and accommodation expenses.
How you can help
The education system is going through massive change and it is likely that we will need to campaign on behalf of TAFE libraries and TAFE students in 2015. Watch this space for news during 2015.
Share your story
Do you want to tell us about how your TAFE library or tAFE education helped your career or perhaps there was a TAFE librarian who made a big difference in your student days? Please drop us a line or post your story on our Facebook page.
Also if you have used one of our tools or suggestions, tell us the results of your actions. For example, if you have written a letter, made comment in the media, or received a response on a issue, please let us know and then we can keep the FAIR community informed via our newsletter.