Concerns about the future of the Tertiary Education Commission’s equity funding programme continue to grow, with the minister of tertiary education, Steven Joyce, not responding to regular requests for information on the issue.
The funding currently provides institutions with $133 for each Māori or Pasifika EFTS studying towards a diploma, $320 for a degree, and $444 for a postgraduate qualification. It also provides $28 for each student EFTS with a disability. Its purpose is to help tertiary education institutions improve equity of access and achievement for Māori students, Pasifika students, and students with disabilities. The money goes towards additional support for institutions to improve participation, retention, completion, and progression.
Rumours have been circulating for some weeks that the fund is likely to be cut or phased out in this year’s budget. Over the last three weeks” Tertiary Update has written regularly to the minister’s office weeks seeking the minister’s comments on this fund, but has not yet received a response.
In a speech earlier this week, the minister said that one of his five key focuses for the year, as outlined in the Tertiary Education Strategy, was to increase the success rate of Māori and Pasifika students.
TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan welcomed this commitment by the current government, and likewise the minister’s comments in the media over the last week on the ongoing need for pastoral care and support for tertiary students.
“This equity programme is an excellent example of precisely such an investment in pastoral care. I hope the minister will soon dispel the growing rumours that it now faces the knife, regardless of its proven record of success,” said Dr Ryan.