THE University of Ballarat will retain about 160 TAFE courses, following State Government funding cuts to vocational training.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Andy Smith said the university offered about 200 courses and initially thought it would have to cut at least 60 courses.

But he said discussions with staff over three weeks meant a list of 60 potentially lost courses was reduced to 40.

“The majority of our programs will continue just as they always have,” Prof Smith said. “Some subjects in the areas of business and hospitality will close, with a few others.

“But the cuts will not have a huge impact on our western campuses at Horsham or Stawell or Ararat and the university is not intending to close any campuses.”

Prof Smith said the university would establish a new employer-focused industry skills centre in Ballarat to help train apprentices.

He said apprentices in Horsham, Stawell and Ararat would have access to the centre.

The centre would offer vocational training programs in the engineering, manufacturing, automotive, agriculture, horticulture, hair and beauty industries, among others.

University vice-chancellor Professor David Battersby said the centre would target the skills needs of the region and employers.

“In addition, the university will establish a new college based in Ballarat,” he said.

“This will incorporate the university’s technical education centre and a range of training and preparatory programs including an English language centre.”

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay congratulated the university for refocusing vocational programs to meet industry needs.

“Despite the plethora of angst in the VET sector currently, the university is an institution that is now showing leadership and a positive approach,” he said.

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