THE merger between the CQUniversity and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE is still in a stand-still position, despite recent public declarations of support.
THE merger between the CQUniversity and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE is still in a stand-still position, despite recent public declarations of support. Chris Ison

Uni/TAFE merger still at stand still despite push for motion

THE merger between the CQUniversity and Central Queensland Institute of TAFE is still in a stand-still position, despite recent public declarations of support.

The Federal Member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, gave a speech in parliament on Monday, stating his support for the merger.

A CQUniversity spokesman told The Bulletin the university's vice-chancellor had been down to Canberra in recent weeks to try and get movement going again on the merger.

Mr O'Dowd says the plan  would see Central Queensland provided with a depth and quality of educational services not yet seen in the region.

"This proposal has been on the negotiating table for approximately three years now," he told Parliament.

"It will be the first dual-sector tertiary institution in Queensland. The merger agreement would guarantee funding for vocational education and training and include the handover of 12 TAFE campuses.

"We know that, under the previous Minister for Tertiary Education, negotiations had slowed down a bit.

"However, I welcome reports that the new Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, the Hon. Chris Bowen, is far more supportive of the merger, and I applaud him for that stance."

In January, both sides of government play the blame game over the latest funding stoush to do with the merger of CQUniversity and CQ TAFE it's the students and public who foot the bill in time and money lost.

And the blame game was in full swing yesterday with Minister for Education, John-Paul Langbroek in Rockhampton where he slammed the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans, blaming them for delaying the merger.

The Queensland opposition leader, John-Paul Langbroek of the LNP.
The Queensland opposition leader, John-Paul Langbroek of the LNP.

He said it was just a signature away from being "a done deal" but the Federal Government was playing politics with the lives of the students and the teaching staff of both the Central Queensland University and TAFE.

Meanwhile, Senator Evans said Mr Langbroek needed to come clean about his government's plans for the future of TAFE in Queensland.

"The truth is the Federal Government hasn't withdrawn a single cent of funding for CQUniversity - we are totally committed to helping CQUniversity provide education opportunities to Central Queenslanders," Senator Evans said.

"While we have massively increased funding, the Newman Government has announced plans to cut the number of TAFE campuses by half.

"I have repeatedly asked the Queensland Government to guarantee that it won't cut funding to CQIT and Minister Langbroek has repeatedly failed to respond to my requests."

See full story from January here.

Ken O'Dowd on the outskirts of Rockhampton during a fact finding trip along the Bruce Highway.
Ken O'Dowd on the outskirts of Rockhampton during a fact finding trip along the Bruce Highway. Chris Ison

Mr O'Dowd, during Monday's Parliament session, said the merger is a plan that enjoys support from many different stakeholders in Central Queensland and across Queensland.

"The CQ University has been incredibly persistent in keeping this proposal alive and should be congratulated for their stance and continuing insistence that we bring this to a head as soon as possible," he said.

"Some $74 million in federal government funding has been pledged to ensure the merger can take place.

"I urge Minister Bowen to finalise this agreement with the university as soon as possible to prevent any further delay in beginning the process.

"The process will take some time to achieve, and the sooner we get approval the sooner we can get on with bringing this all to an end.

"We know that Central Queensland has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years and that our education networks need to adapt to meet the changing needs of the region.

"The region is undergoing huge developments with gas exploration and export and has a thriving coal industry and significant aluminium industry, and of course we have agricultural needs in the area also.

"Again I encourage all parties, including the Queensland state government, to pull out all the stops and get this deal done."



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