FEDERATION University has praised the state government’s Free TAFE initiative, saying it is encouraging more Wimmera people to take an opportunity to learn skills that help them secure jobs.
The university’s engagement manager Bill Mundy said there was a noticeable difference in interest in studying at the Horsham campus from 2018 to 2019.
Mr Mundy said there were 66 enrollments across two Free TAFE courses that were popular at the Wimmera campus – Certificate III Individual Support and Diploma of Nursing.
“Free TAFE has certainly driven enrollments at the Horsham campus. As the year progresses, the numbers in those courses may change and we’re encouraging people who didn’t gain access to the courses they wanted to look at other opportunities,” Mr Mundy said.
“We are certainly very appreciative of the state government’s initiative.”
Mr Mundy said the university was looking at introducing Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping to the Wimmera in the next six months.
“This is another Free TAFE course, and we’ve seen a lot of interest in that already,” he said.
Vectis woman Zali Williams, 18, said the ability to study her course of choice for free would make a big difference in her life.
Ms Williams will start a Diploma of Community Services at the Horsham campus next week – one of the courses listed among the Free TAFE initiative.
She said she had originally planned to complete an online course through Deakin University after graduating from St Brigid’s College in Horsham last year.
“It would have cost me between $27,000 and $30,000 to do that course,” Ms Williams said.
“I don’t want to get a student loan. I just don’t want the interest.
“I have a lot of friends at the moment who are struggling to pay their courses off, so I was going to save up the money by working my part-time job at a service station.
“It probably would have taken me three or four years to save up that much, but now I can do this course for free – which will give me a qualification, while still saving money if I want to do a more in-depth degree later on.
“This course is definitely more what I want to do. I want to be either a social worker or a youth worker and it covers more areas than the Deakin one.”
Ms Williams said being able to study in Horsham also meant she could continue working part-time while studying.