Thanks to Robin Ducker @Flickr for the photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightknight/2164232427/

Foundation studies cuts continue around the country

Following UCOL’s announcements of massive course closures and staff cuts as a result of government funding cuts, other polytechnics are now also announcing course closures and staff cuts.

The Nelson Mail reported that Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology has lost about 100 full-time student places, or about $600,000 of funding.

“We are looking at what our options are. It could well have a knock-on effect in terms of staffing,” chief executive Tony Gray said.

“Our bigger concern is these places are a loss to the region. If they have been used elsewhere they have not been allocated to this region,” he said.

Tony Gray said NMIT was unsure what it would do, but that computing courses would probably go.

The Taranaki Daily News reported that ten staff and 70 student places go from Taranaki’s polytechnic WITT. Chief executive Richard Handley broke the news to staff that redundancies and course closures were the only answer to reduced funding. He was stunned the funding cuts came so soon after the polytechnic had turned the corner after years of financial and educational difficulties.

The cuts mean WITT will close five programmes and put two more on hold until it can find more non-government funding, and there will be fewer places available on another six programmes.

“This will result in less choice for students with the reduction of about 70 student places as the portfolio has changed,” Richard Handley told the Daily News.

The funding cuts are likely to affect WITT’s agriculture and horticulture courses the hardest.

The Dominion Post reported that Eastern Institute of Technology will lose at least 12 staff and funding for 320 entry-level students at its Napier and Tairāwhiti campuses because it missed out on more than $2 million in government funding. The Dominion Post reports people expect cuts in the automotive and business schools. It also speculates on likely cuts at Weltec.

TEU believes that more cuts are likely at other polytechnics too.

Labour’s tertiary education spokesperson, Grant Robertson, told TV3Steven Joyce is stripping polytechnics of their funding because it wants to privatise tertiary education. He told the network that there is a place for private training establishments in the sector but not at the cost of polytechnics.

“His [Steven Joyce's] agenda is an ideological one – to put as much of the tertiary sector into private hands as possible,” Grant Robertson said. “Some polytechnics are fighting for their very existence, these institutions can play a critical role re-training and developing a skilled workforce and Steven Joyce’s approach puts this at risk.”

“The Tertiary Education Commission is meeting next Thursday to discuss the funding crisis it has created for foundation level students at polytechnics round the country, said TEU national president Sandra Grey. “We have branches of members around country that will also be meeting on that day to let the commission know that it must fix the mess the minister has created with his ideological funding experiment.”

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