Minister cannot wash his hands of funding responsibility

Posted By TEU on Apr 23, 2010 |

The minister of tertiary education cannot simply wash his hands of his responsibility to fund universities, polytechnics and wānanga properly, says TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs.

“The minister has said repeatedly that he will spend no more money on tertiary education in this year’s budget.”  This morning he is in the paper saying that he thinks foreign students and philanthropists should pick up the cost instead,” said Ms Riggs. “What he is actually saying is that the sector is severely underfunded, but it’s not his problem.”

“Even if we were to ignore the risks of having the long term financial viability and the quality of our tertiary education system reliant on overseas students and friendly cash-rich donors, Mr Joyce’s proposal would still be hugely unfair.”

“Tairāwhiti Polytechnic for example does not have the history of alumni and private investors that they can call upon compared with somewhere like the University of Auckland, let alone Harvard University.”  There are some important things we need to fund even if they do not appeal to foreign students or wealthy philanthropists.”

“For instance the minister himself regularly says that tertiary institutions need to provide more pastoral care for their students.”  This is exactly the kind of service that his government needs to fund because private donors are unlikely, unwilling or unable to provide it equitably to all students,”said Ms Riggs. She went on to say that Mr Joyce’s reference to the commercialisation of research as a way of raising funds will also ring alarm bells for academics concerned about the independence of their research.

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