Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall has labelled a media release issued last Friday by Victorian TAFE Association CEO David Williams as deliberately misleading to students undertaking or thinking of undertaking vocational studies.
"It is outrageous that the TAFE Association should seek to frighten students away from training by telling Koorie students, students with disabilities and special needs students they are 'at risk of missing out on vocational training'," Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall said the Victorian Government's reforms to refocus the vocational education and training (VET) sector announced last week would continue to support the training of vulnerable Victorians in public and private provider settings.
Last week's State Budget saw the government announce an extra $1 billion over the next four years for the training system, with much of the money going to better support courses that provide higher level training such as apprenticeships and areas of skills shortages.
"Under the package, free training places will be available to young Victorians living in out-of-home care or state care and young people who have recently left state care. Concession fees will continue to be available to people with health care and pension cards undertaking training up to Certificate IV level," Mr Hall said.
Last year the number of VET students with a disability undertaking subsidised training grew by 25 per cent to more than 34,000 students, with the strongest growth at the Certificate III and IV level.
Under the Victorian Government's reforms, this training will generally attract more generous funding than other certificate levels due to its high employment outcomes.
The growth in participation has been largely driven by Adult Community Education (ACE) and private providers, while TAFE enrolments have remained largely static. By the end of 2011, ACE and private providers delivered training to 56 per cent of VET students with a disability; and 44 per cent of Indigenous students.
"All training providers have a responsibility to provide access to learners with a disability," Mr Hall said.
"There will continue to be access for students with a disability, special needs and Koorie students to subsidised training. Indigenous students continue to attract a loading, with private and public providers receiving 50 per cent more for each Indigenous student."