The NSW Greens have raised concerns about the future of Belmont TAFE during a visit to the Hunter to campaign for public education and training funding.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said savage budget cuts and funding uncertainty had resulted in Hunter campuses losing student enrolments, courses and staff numbers.
"Quality education and training for Hunter school leavers, access to opportunities for people with disabilities and special needs and the ability for workers to retrain are being devastated in the name of market economics,’’ Ms Rhiannon said on Tuesday.
Under the state government’s ‘‘Smart and Skilled reforms’’ the TAFE has to compete for funding with for-profit training providers.
The Greens proposal would see 85 per cent of TAFE’s funding guaranteed and a 15 per cent cap placed on funding available to each course offered by a commercial company.
Greens MP John Kaye said part of Belmont campus was at risk of being sold as courses were cut or centralised to Newcastle.
‘‘We are very concerned that people in Lake Macquaire will lose access to high quality training and education,’’ Mr Kay said.
The fee hikes that were part of the Smart and Skilled reforms should be immediately reversed, he said.
‘‘Tafe is a public sector organisation that should have secure public funding. There certainly should be more free access for TAFE and students with special needs.’’
NSW Teachers Federation Hunter organiser Rob Long supported the proposals.
‘‘The answer is you have to guarantee funding because ... small regional colleges are the first ones to go.’’ Mr Long said.