Surpluses at public institutions raise questions about priorities

Posted By TEU on Jul 14, 2011 |

Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 25

Ministry of Education statistics show the average surplus as a percentage of revenue at public tertiary education providers climbing dramatically from 1.9 percent in 2006 to 5.2 percent last year.

In 2006 public tertiary education providers made a combined surplus of $66 million on revenue of $3.5 billion. Last year the same institutions made a combined surplus of $280 million on revenue of $4.4 billion.

Public tertiary institutions are supposed to meet a benchmark surplus of 3 percent of revenue each year. By exceeding that benchmark by a further 2.2 percent last year the institutions pocketed nearly $100 million dollars more than they were required to.

The large surplus last year does not seem to be a one off aberration according to TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs. “They have grown steadily each year since 2006.”

The public institutions that have generated the largest surpluses as percentages of revenue include Waiariki (16 percent) Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and SIT (13 percent each), WITT and UCOL (12 percent each), the Open Polytechnic, CPIT and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (11 percent each).

“While we commend these institutions on careful and prudent management, we need to remember that surplus money is money that could have been spend saving jobs, teaching students and protecting quality education,” said Ms Riggs. “Too many good people have lost their jobs, gone without pay rises or been told to turn away students because of tight fiscal circumstances. It is galling to see that those circumstances were not so tight after all.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Negotiations across the nation
  2. Voluntary student membership unlikely before election
  3. Sleepover workers reject government offer

Other news

“Wanted: casual teaching staff. Postgraduate qualifications essential, PhD preferred. Minimum three hours work per paid hour; hours to be advised. No office provided. Three months work available; chance of more next year, after four months unpaid break.” Doesn’t sound very enticing, does it? But such is the lot of the sessional tutor — 70,000 in Australia, the NTEU estimates – The Melbourne Age

Two-thirds of English universities will have a maximum fee level of £9,000 and a third of them will charge the full fee for all courses. UCU said today that it was not surprised that all universities’ tuition fee hikes had been approved, leaving England as the most expensive country to study for a public degree – University and College Union

Almost a quarter of Australia’s universities expect to be over-enrolled by more than 20 per cent this year. And more than two-thirds of institutions began the year planning to take on extra students without any federal teaching subsidy to offset the cost. Australian universities are jockeying for position in next year’s demand-driven market. From next year, universities are promised teaching subsidies for every place they can fill – The Australian

Welsh ministers have been handed proposals for cutting the number of universities through mergers. A blueprint from the body that funds higher education would cut the number of universities in Wales from 11 to six. Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who last year said universities must “adapt or die”, is backing the proposals – BBC

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day.



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