Tuition fees for WA's TAFE system will increase substantially as a result of changes announced by the State Government.
The Training Minister Terry Redman has confirmed a cap on tuition fees of just over $600 per semester will be scrapped from next year, while the hourly rate at which fees are charged will nearly triple.
That will take the tuition fees for an 18-month nursing diploma from just under $2000, to around $8000.
There will be similar increases for other courses.
Currently students pay about seven per cent of the cost of their TAFE education, which will rise to about 19 per cent by 2017.
Mr Redman says the increase in fees will mean students treat TAFE courses more seriously but the impact will be reduced by the availability of Commonwealth-funded loans to diploma students.
"That's effectively a HECS-type arrangement for training," he said.
"We believe that's going to offset some of the increases and that's the reason we've been able to put those charges there."
Mr Redman says 87 per cent of students will still pay less than $2,000 for their courses but he concedes the fee rises will push people away from the TAFE system.
"The state training providers currently have a market share of training, providing around 80 per cent of training, and the private sector provides around 20 per cent," he said.
"I'm expecting there'll be some market share shift ... but when they increased fees in Victoria, they didn't see a decrease in engagement in training."
Anne Gisborne from the State School Teachers Union says the rises could have devastating consequences.
"The impact on opportunities, particularly from people from less wealthy backgrounds, will be significant," she said.
"I'm worried it'll reduce the number of students who are putting their hands up to get into nursing.
"The Government is bent on using fees as a mechanism of bolstering its budget and it leaves us with a risk of courses being closed down and the possibility of job losses."