Tertiary education folk can best judge Budget 2016 by what it does for local communities, says TEU president Sandra Grey.
For the last seven years every corner of tertiary education, except for some private providers, has faced tough budgets that have made it harder for people to do their job effectively, harder for students to get high-quality education and harder for institutions to remain stable and secure.
However, the institutions, students and people who work in tertiary education that most felt the brunt of the government’s cuts to tertiary education funding are those in regional towns and communities.
“Many of government’s most loyal voters come from these small communities. Yet the institutions in those towns and centres are struggling to give their local students a broad-based education, a range of job skills and the chance to work in their home town,” says Grey.
In Northland, NorthTec’s government funding fell by over $1 million between 2013 and 2015. In Palmerston North, Wanganui and the Wairarapa UCOL’s funding fell by $1.1 million during the same period, Tai Poutini lost early $800,000, Waiariki lost $600,000 of government funding, SIT lost $300,000 and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic lost $200,000.
Aoraki Polytechnic, where financial woes forced a merger into Ara Institute of Canterbury, lost over $6 million of government funding between 2013 and 2015. Just up the road, Lincoln University lost $2.8 million.
“If you look around New Zealand all students and their institutions need more money to prevent the ongoing redundancies restructures, course closures and turmoil that is undermining their education. But the areas that need it the most are the regions.”
“If this government does nothing else for tertiary education this year, it needs to change direction on the way it treats people who don’t live in big cities. Those people deserve to be able to study, to get the skills they need to work and support their community, in their own communities, near their families.”