Funding Woes Hit College

As Robinson College continues to grapple with a significant loss of funding, its focus has shifted to how it can sustainably support the community in the future. Earlier this year, the State Government reduced the Smart and Skilled funding, disallowing employees who work more than 25 hours a week from tapping into this resource.

Ellen Gillespie, the CEO of Robinson College, told the Truth, “Another change to the eligibility criteria means the funding can now only be used for qualifications.” “What this means is that the funding can’t be used to train for a specific skill set or an individual unit, so the funding isn’t meeting the needs of industries that sometimes only require basic training areas.”

Ms Gillespie added that last year the Smart and Skilled program was much more supportive, saying they “funded everything and anything.” Overall, she estimates that the college is $160,000 worse off due to this cut, hampering its ability to “meet the needs of the community, local industries, and the economy, with our limited funds that are now solely sourced from Adult Community Education (ACE) funding.”

ACE funding, overseen by Training Services NSW, allocates $500,000 annually to 32 community colleges, including Robinson College. Under this scheme, 60% of the funding is made available upfront, with the remaining 40% disbursed provided Robinson College meets its annual KPIs. “A KPI for us is 1,091 enrolments, which can be for either accredited or non-accredited courses,” Ms Gillespie mentioned.

Last year, the College exceeded this metric by securing over 1,500 enrolments. The ACE funding also enables the College to employ an Outreach Support Officer until 2025, serving communities like Balranald and Wilcannia. “The outreach position allows us to re-engage students, assisting them with language, literacy, and numeracy barriers,” Ms Gillespie added.

Although funding challenges persist, Ms Gillespie says she recently learned of potential funding through AgSkilled. “AgSkilled is for agriculture. We can apply because we reach rural areas and have units that meet AgSkilled’s eligibility requirements,” a relieved Ms Gillespie stated.

Nevertheless, Robinson College remains committed to supporting the community through its Outreach Support Officer, one-day funded courses, and an updated course calendar scheduled until June 2024. The College also plans to apply for a grant that would fund free programs in ‘Computers in a Digital World’ for individuals over 50.

For more information or to express interest in this course, please contact the College on 08 8087 6022.

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