TAFE Queensland plans to spend more than half a million dollars on international travel this financial year as staff jet off to the US, France, China and Fiji.
The organisation will increase its travel spend this year while expecting to record a $38 million deficit in 2019-20, according to the June budget – a blowout from the $11 million loss predicted by the audit office.
TAFE Queensland has budgeted $669,775 for overseas-related expenses in 2019-20, up from $551,946 in 2018-19.
More than half of next year’s travel bill ($412,200) will be for China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia and Taiwan, while $135,100 will be spent travelling to Southeast Asia, including Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand.
Other destinations include South Africa, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Peru, Canada, New Zealand and Nepal.
Training Minister Shannon Fentiman said for every dollar TAFE Queensland spent on overseas costs in 2018-19, $56 of international training revenue was generated.
“In 2019-20, TAFE Queensland has budgeted international training revenue of more than $32.5 million and overseas-related expenditure of $669,775, representing 2 per cent of total international training revenue,” she said, in response to a question on notice tabled during estimates hearings.
Ms Fentiman said international education and training was worth $4.6 billion to Queensland’s economy and supported more than 21,000 jobs.
In May, the Queensland Audit Office revealed TAFE Queensland’s financial performance was at risk because of declining student numbers and revenue, without an equivalent reduction in expenses.
Meanwhile, the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training spent $1.02 million on conferences, workshops, catering and hospitality in 2018-19.
That included $262,208 on staff training and development, $288,412 on entertainment such as food and drinks, $138,431 on refreshments and light meals, and $324,268 on venue hire.
Ms Fentiman said the cost – estimated at $950,000 – was less than 0.1 per cent of the department’s total budget.
In February, Brisbane Times revealed TAFE Queensland overspent the budget for its student management IT system by $1.4 million, or 32 per cent.
It spent $2.83 million on the student management system in 2018-19, coming in $707,699 under budget.
The IT system allows processing of student enrolments, course fees, payment plans, student results and printing of awards.
Ms Fentiman was being grilled at estimates hearings on Thursday afternoon.