Data from the Tertiary Education Commission shows that government funding for metropolitan based polytechnics has fallen by 1 percent between 2010 and 2011, but it fell by a massive 11 percent, or $32 million, for regional polytechnics over the same period.
With the exception of Eastern Institute of Technology, which merged with Tairāwhiti Polytechnic last year, every polytechnic not based in one of New Zealand’s five largest cities lost at least $2 million of government grants in the last recorded financial years.
TEU’s national president Sandra Grey says the regional polytechnics are in an invidious spiral.
“Their task is to provide a broad diverse range of skills and knowledge to their local communities. But for several years they have taken the brunt of the government’s budget cuts, been told to compete with private providers who can cherry pick their students and take only the best, and have been asked to deliver more measurable outcomes with fewer resources. The commitment of polytechnics to the diverse needs of their local community means they cannot specialise and rationalise in the way other providers can. So they are punished for doing the job they were created to do – publicly providing all local people with skills and training they need in their own community. We should be rewarding these polytechnics for saving us from the worst effects of the global financial crisis, but instead we are punishing them.”