The foundation studies (Level 1-2) funding experiment

Posted By TEU on Oct 24, 2012 |

In the 2012 Budget the government took one-third of the money it normally uses to fund foundation level tertiary education (level 1 and 2 courses) and put it up for tender – $38 million out of $115 million.

At the time TEU warned that this could have two perverse consequences:

  1. Public money would move away from public providers, such as our polytechnics with their long-standing record of high quality regional education, towards private for-profit companies.
  2. Public providers, like our polytechnics, would respond to the competitive funding model by acting like private businesses. They would be forced to cut courses, offer the cheapest possible courses so that they could win the tender, and focus less on giving student and communities’ life-long learning paths and more on passing students through short one-year courses.

Before knowing the outcome of this experiment the Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce is already talking about expanding it so all Level 1-2 funding becomes competitively tendered.

When the minister announced the results of the tender process, two-thirds of our polytechnics had missed out on funding, as had other large public foundation studies providers like Lincoln University.

The Tertiary Education Commission – the body that handled the tender process – admitted in its own documentation that it granted funding on the basis of ‘value for money’ rather than quality of education.

And once the minister and the commission announced the successful tenders, the unsuccessful polytechnics immediately began to plan how they would get by without the money they needed to teach level 1 and 2 students. Unsurprisingly, their response was to start closing courses and restructuring and cutting jobs.

TEU is campaigning against this competitive funding model because we believe it is an ideological experiment in privatisation that will fail.  Public money should continue to go to local public institutions that belong to and are committed to their communities in the long-term. If you can help us with this campaign contact us here.


(click on the photo to see more)

Foundation studies protests photo set

Messages of Support:

University of Auckland Branch
We, the members of the University of Auckland Branch of the Tertiary Education Union, extend our solidarity and support to our colleagues in the ITP sector and their struggle with funding cuts. We understand the challenges you face and recognize that your fight is our fight. We stand with you and call upon government to reconsider its funding model and to put more money into foundation studies at polytechnics. 

Grant Robertson, MP
The Government should be investing in the training and education provided by our Polytechnics. These institutions can play a critical role re-training and developing a skilled workforce. Instead some of them are fighting for their very existence.
Ross Robertson, MP
As a local MP I am deeply concerned about the changes to public polytechnic funding, which will cut courses and at least 25 staff in English, foundation studies, business services, horticulture, automotive and trades schools here at Manukau Institute of Technology.  MIT is a vital part of this region’s economy, and it plays a huge role in  ensuring there are training opportunities for our young people.  This is bad news for South Auckland. 
Rebecca Hohaia, OPSA President
Cutting funding to education is like pouring concrete around a newly planted flower. It is limiting this generation and other generations abilities to flourish into well-rounded individuals and to make a better tomorrow for themselves and others.

Campaign Resources

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Foundation studies campaign FACTSHEET (pdf)

Foundation studies campaign INVITE (pdf)

Foundation studies campaign POSTER (pdf)

Foundation studies campaign SPEECH-BUBBLE (pdf)

To download any of the resources, once you have clicked on the link and opened up the box to view it you need to click on the icon beside the resource that looks like this:   That will start your download.

Contact Stephen Day for a copy of meeting speech-notes if you would like them and/or for a more detailed fact sheet.

The resources above are for photocopying. If you want print quality versions you can also contact Stephen Day.

Images for you to use

TEU commentary on the Level 1-2 funding debacle:

TEC’s documentation

Minister’s announcement:

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