Learning centres hit hard by fee rise
COMMUNITY education providers have condemned the state government's decision to introduce hefty fee increases, which they fear could force some neighbourhood houses to close.
The government has confirmed that yearly registration fees for Victorian neighbourhood learning centres that offer vocational qualifications will rise from $300 in 2013 to $2091.50 in 2016.
Neighbourhood centres often provide education in communities where TAFE courses are unavailable.
A spokesman for Skills Minister Peter Hall said other registered training organisations would have to pay twice as much as neighbourhood centres in yearly registration fees.
Registered training organisations include community non-profit providers and private operators that teach vocational courses.
While fees will drop in some instances next year, they will rise dramatically over the coming four years.
Mr Hall's spokesman said assessment fees for training organisations' initial registrations will also increase from $3300 next year to $13,486 in 2016.
The Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres attacked the fee rise. Executive officer Angela Savage said volunteers managed many neighbourhood centres and some might close if they could not afford the increased charges. ''Some of them hang on by a thread,'' Ms Savage said.
Opposition spokesman on higher education and skills Steve Herbert said ''these massive fee rises are going to be a disaster''.
Mr Hall's spokesman said the revenue from fees would go to the Victorian Registration Qualifications Authority to offset the cost of regulating education and training providers.