The minister of tertiary education Steven Joyce has decided to base next year’s Equity Funding on 2009 enrolments rather actual enrolments. Because of the significant growth in student rolls at tertiary institutions across the country that means that there will be a lower proportion of funding to support the increase in Māori and Pasifika students.
The funding currently provides institutions with $133 for each equivalent full time Māori or Pasifika student studying towards a diploma, $320 for a degree, and $444 for a postgraduate qualification. The fund’s purpose is to help tertiary education institutions improve equity of access and achievement for Māori and Pasifika students. The money goes towards additional support for institutions to improve participation, retention, completion, and progression.
TEU Māori vice-president Cheri Waititi says that capping the funding at 2009 levels when student numbers are growing will undermine the benefits and the advances that have resulted from the funding.
“The government’s own Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015 specifically focuses on improving participation and learning for Māori and Pasifika people. How can it achieve that when it waters down equity funding across more and more students?”
The money currently is used in a range of ways by the various institutions. For instance, the University of Auckland’s Tūakana Programme links tuākana (senior Māori students) with teina (new students), providing targeted assistance of academic support and pastoral care to the teina. The university notes that, overall, participants in the Tuākana Programme have significantly higher retention and pass rates than those who do not participate.
“The minister’s office said in April the government had no plans to cut equity funding rates. This change in formula has exactly the same effect though,” said Ms Waititi.