THE number of TAFE courses available to students through the state's admissions centre has dropped markedly, according to figures from first-round offers.
An analysis of Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre figures showed at least 170 fewer TAFE courses were available this year.
However, first-round offers through the admissions centre make up a small proportion of students applying to study at TAFE.
Most people apply directly to the TAFE institutes where they want to study.
But Holmesglen chief executive Bruce Mackenzie said the decrease in courses through the centre suggested TAFEs were ''rationalising'' after the government cut almost $300 million from the sector last year.
Many TAFE institutes revealed last year that they would withdraw from a range of courses.
The centre's figures also revealed a 2364 drop in applications for TAFE courses this year, a 25.8 per cent decrease from 2012.
''February and March will be the time when institutes will need to look at what their financial projections were,'' Mr Mackenzie said.
''We think the courses we put up will reflect what student demand will be.''
He said some TAFE institutes could increase the number of courses if private institutes left the sector because of decreased government funding.
Mr Mackenzie said about 20 per cent of Holmesglen's courses were offered through the admissions centre, including diplomas and undergraduate degrees. But qualifications such as apprenticeships were not available to applicants through the centre.
According to government figures, 320,000 students were enrolled in TAFEs last year, but the centre managed only about 10,000 applications.
A spokesman for Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall said TAFE institutes might be choosing to handle a greater proportion of their courses directly rather than receive students through the centre.
''A more complete picture of training uptake in 2013 at TAFE institutes will not be available until later in the year,'' he said.
The spokesman said the centre's data on offers did not provide an accurate basis to assess demand for vocational courses.
He said the government was investing $1.2 billion a year on training. ''We want taxpayers' money to be directed to those courses that teach skills most needed by employers.''
Hospitality, business administration and events management were among the courses hardest hit by cuts in government subsidies, according to the Victorian TAFE Association.