Staff, students and members of the local community will come together tomorrow to call on the government to change its tertiary education funding model to better meet the needs of rural areas.
The event at the Ara’s Institute of Canterbury’s Timaru campus will focus attention on how competitive funding is impacting people’s ability to access learning opportunities in regional communities.
Over the last five years, National has reformed the tertiary education funding model to allow the market a much greater say in what courses should be provided locally, rather than the communities themselves.
National is planning to enshrine this model in law, tying Ministers hands by requiring them to move funding around the sector in response to market signals.
This would make local provision of public tertiary education extremely vulnerable to short-term market trends, rather than being contingent on what communities want for the future.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has previously said the recent decision to cut five courses at Ara is symptomatic of this failed approach to tertiary education.
Starting at 12pm on Friday 4 August, the event will help to raise public awareness of what is at stake and to get backing for a long-term strategic approach to tertiary education that meets the needs of regional areas.
“National’s approach to tertiary education has failed the regions. Its experiment in free market education, trialled in some levels of provision, has seen ITPs closing courses in small rural and regional communities because they’ve lost out to for-profit providers. Changing the law to extend this approach across the sector would be a disaster. We urgently need a different approach where regional access to tertiary education is protected,” Sandra Grey, national president of the Tertiary Education Union, said.