Ministry responds to funding cuts with commercialisation

Posted By TEU on Feb 9, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 2

The Ministry of Education released its briefing to the incoming minister to the public last week. Or, at least parts of it that are not being withheld under the Official Information Act were released.

The ministry begins its briefing by noting that total expenditure on tertiary education as a percentage of gross domestic product (excluding student loans) fell from 2.0 percent in 2009/10 to 1.9 percent in 2010/11. Total tertiary expenditure, excluding student loans, will fall by a further 4.8 percent over the next five years.

The admission that the government is actively and continuously cutting tertiary education funding shapes many of the recommendations the ministry makes. Its overarching approach is to target increasingly limited funding on those areas and students it believes will best match the government’s economic growth goals.

It also aggressively seeks external private funding, both through export education, and by greater links between tertiary education, research and private companies.

TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey says funding pressures are leading the ministry to abandon a commitment to broad-based, equitable and accessible education.

“The ministry’s narrow focus on picking winners for the economy and on generating private income to cover its public funding shortfall undermines New Zealand’s historical commitment to open accessible public tertiary education,” said Dr Grey.

TEU general staff vice-president Helen Kissell said, “The intention of the ministry to interfere with the autonomy of tertiary institutions to ensure they aren’t teaching or researching in ‘lower priority’ areas, as defined by government, is a fundamental threat to academic freedom.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Commission suggests change in tertiary strategy
  2. Proposed settlement at Waiariki
  3. Commercialisation can distort good research
  4. Unions drive up pay in education sector
  5. Ports of Auckland dispute about casualisation
  6. A competition

Other news

“Treasury’s proposed road map for stability and for ‘improving the wider living standards of New Zealanders’ is missing a crucial element – investment in high quality public tertiary education. In fact, it attacks the very engine-room that is crucial to economic growth and stability.” – TEU national president Sandra Grey at The Standard.

Plans to “Monday-ise” public holidays have inched closer to reality after legislation to make the change went onto Parliament’s business programme today. ” There are no plans to shift commemorations – they will still be celebrated on the actual dates – but it doesn’t seem fair that where workers are entitled to a day off they are sometimes missing out – New Zealand Herald

More than 50,000 students will flood into the heart of the south next year when the doors open at Manukau Institute of Technology’s new campus. It will initially house between 50,000 and 65,000 fulltime-equivalent students. Up to 150,000 fulltime-equivalent students are expected to use the facility once stage two and three are completed – Papakura Courier.

A graph showing the share of income that the richest 1% of people in New Zealand has received over the last 90 years together with union membership over that period gives a clear picture. Income inequality has risen when union membership has been falling, and inequality has fallen when union membership has been strong – Bill Rosenberg for the Council of Trade Unions.

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the country’s first university degree for teachers in Maori immersion schools is welcome acknowledgement of the importance and status of teaching te reo. Te Aho Tatairangi has been launched by Massey University. It is a four-year degree course, which aims to supply 200 Maori immersion graduates by 2020 – NZEI Te Riu Roa

Students around New Zealand, increasingly struggling to make ends meet, have claimed almost $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance from the Ministry of Social Development during the past three years. The number of special needs grants to tertiary students has increased by 58% during the past three years – Otago Daily Times

Authorised by Sharn Riggs, Tertiary Education Union, 8th Floor, Education House 178-182 Willis St, Wellington 6011.

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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