The Tertiary Education Commission is investigating Lincoln University and Tai Poutini Polytechnic for breaching their funding conditions.
The commission suspects both institutions of not offering courses they were funded to provide. It has enlisted accountancy firm Deloitte to investigate further.
The commission and its governing minister have been criticised recently for failing to prevent several high profile examples of tertiary education fraud, including by Agribusiness Training, Taratahi, Intueri, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and WITT.
So the commission’s chief Executive Tim Fowler was determined to point out this week that the commission has a comprehensive monitoring system to pick up on funding discrepancies.
“There is a message here for all tertiary education organisations. We have a sophisticated and effective monitoring framework. If you are not meeting your obligations, we will find out,” he said.
Tai Poutini, however, says it alerted the commission to its own possible funding discrepancy.
TEU vice-president Phil Edwards says it is worrying that fraud is increasingly widespread in tertiary education institutions.
“There is no doubt that a lack of funding is pressuring managers within some institutions to take shortcuts that they should not take.”
Edwards says the financial pressure on small regional institutions is immense.
“There is no excuse for fraud by institutions, but the current funding model is simply unsustainable for our small regional institutions. They’re all making hard choices, and some of them may be making wrong choices.”
Edwards says that the blame for any fraud falls on institutions’ leaders, not on staff who are doing their best to support students in their local communities.