Visual arts on the line

VISUAL arts and media courses at Lismore TAFE are likely to be axed as a result of changes to TAFE funding announced by the State Government recently.

Elizabeth McGregor, the institute director of North Coast TAFE, told The Echo government subsidies to fine arts were being withdrawn and the only way the courses could continue is if they were "packaged up" and offered on a fee paying basis.

She said students doing diploma courses could be eligible for a HECS-style loan that doesn't have to be paid back until the person's earnings reach a threshold of about $49,000 per year.

"I envisage that in 2013 a range of programs under the fine arts banner will be offered and priced differently. It will be interesting to see how students respond to that... but that will determine the size and nature of future programs," Ms McGregor said.

TAFE Teachers Federation representative John Stewart said the government was cutting $1.7 billion to education funding and had targeted 800 TAFE jobs to go across the state.

"All fine arts courses throughout the state will no longer be funded ... It's likely only metropolitan colleges will survive. Regional colleges will cease any art delivery," he said.

Mr Stewart said four full-time and up to 12 part-time positions would go if the Lismore courses are cut.

"If we don't get sufficient numbers to run the courses, they would all go," he said.

"Educationally it will have a huge effect. We get a lot of 'second chance students': those students who don't come directly from HSC. For them TAFE is a second chance to do tertiary education and a lot of them will then go on to university."

Screen and media course coordinator Rohan Langford said the uncertainty was frustrating. He had been told to tell potential students they didn't know what was going to happen next year.

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