In a move sure to thrill Queensland teachers TAFE has called for lower tertiary provider wages.

This comes after the tertiary educator admitted it could no longer compete with private enterprise colleges.

Chief Executive Officer Jodi Schmidt said that the industrial agreements securing higher wages for their teachers were placing TAFE at a “significant and immediate market disadvantage.”

Between September 2013 and 2014, she said, TAFE enrolments dropped by 12,000. She blames this fall on the high teacher costs; costs that have to be passed on to students.

Ms Schmidt said TAFE overall teaching costs exceeded those in private enterprise establishments by a staggering $151 million.

Ms Schmidt filed an affidavit with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission asking for a rethink of the current award and conditions governing employees.

As it stands TAFE is legally obliged to rent campuses from the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority (QTAMA). The cost of this rental is subsidised by the government. However, in the wake of treasurer Hockey’s budget Ms Schmidt is concerned TAFEs will be asked to make up any shortfall should the government lessen or remove altogether their subsidies.

Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teacher’s Union, argued that private colleges should be forced to raise their teacher pay rates to those currently enjoyed at TAFE. “if you want a high quality system in terms of delivery and content, then you have to pay for that,” he told the Sunday Mail.

Aaron Devine, the Brisbane general manager of TAFE Queensland, believed within the next three to six years some TAFEs would begin offering degrees instead of lower qualifications, while others would be offering fewer course overall. “If you are asked to increase your revenue, you have to increase student fees or reduce costs for campuses – and courses would not be viable in some regional areas and remote locations.”

Education minister John-Paul Langbroek said the government had already pumped $240 million into TAFE. He reiterated the government’s pledge to high quality training, but didn’t comment on Ms Schmidt’s submission to the Industrial Relations Commission.

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