The newly formed Tertiary Education Union (TEU) is challenging the myth that a global economic crisis and a new conservative government will mean cuts to public tertiary education.
“We Kiwis cannot protect ourselves from an impending economic storm by cutting down public education,” says Tangi Tipene, TEU Co-President. “If we are to survive the oncoming economic bad weather we need to invest in teaching quality, research, and accessibility. All New Zealanders need the opportunities that tertiary education can provide to weather the storm.”
TEU responded quickly to the challenge the Tertiary Education Commission’s chief executive, Professor Roy Sharp, laid down to it at its inaugural conference yesterday. Professor Sharp argued that the current economic environment means there will be no real extra money to go around and that institutions will need to get by on current budgets.
“Tertiary education is struggling from years of underfunding already,” says TEU Co-President, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery. “Capping existing budgets in the face of current high inflation is effectively a cut. The new minister of tertiary education needs to act quickly to stem the economic crisis by investing in public services that can shelter us from this mess.”
“It is crucial that we see public education not as a cost to be trimmed but as a tool to solve the problem,” Dr Montgomery added.