Protests over foundation studies cut

Posted By TEU on Nov 21, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 41

TEU members are holding protests and meetings at polytechnics around the country today to convince the government to put more money into foundation studies education at polytechnics. The protests coincide with media coverage (from Auckland’s New Zealand Herald to Dunedin’s Otago Daily Timesof the millions of dollars the government has stripped from polytechnics through its foundation studies funding experiment.

A government change to the way it funds foundation studies education has seen the funding for public polytechnics cut from $38 million this year to only about $6 million next year. As a result, thousands of students no longer have the opportunity to enrol for these courses at polytechnics, dozens of courses are threatened with closure and dozens of respected and qualified tutors stand to lose their jobs.

TEU national president Sandra Grey says the funding change is an ideological experiment by the minister for tertiary education that has gone horribly wrong.

“Public money should go to local public institutions that were built by, belong to and are committed to their communities.”

“We understand the Tertiary Education Commission is meeting tomorrow to consider funding allocations. We will be protesting and meeting publicly to let the government know that it cannot abandon our foundation studies students, our local regions and their long-standing polytechnics. It needs to put money back into polytechnics rather than diverting these funds into the private sector.”

TEU events planned so far at 14 different campuses include:

  • WITT TEU is leafleting the community in New Plymouth at lunchtime
  • EIT TEU Taradale and Tairawhiti campuses are holding lunchtime BBQs and handing out information to the public
  • Waiariki TEU is doing a mobile message board about the importance of public education to send to the local National MP
  • MIT TEU is going to cut a cake and hold a protest on the main road outside the institution at 2pm (the cake shows a bigger slice of funding going to private providers than polytechnics)
  • NMIT TEU is going to have a lunchtime event and have a polystyrene headstone to signal the death of Level 1 and 2 funding
  • UCOL TEU Whanganui and Palmerston North are holding lunchtime protests
  • Otago Polytechnic TEU is holding a lunchtime meeting
  • Unitec TEU is also going to cut a cake and then head out leafleting
  • Northtec TEU will be holding activities for members to share information about why Level 1 and 2 funding is so important
  • Weltec TEU will be leafleting and cutting a cake at 12noon
  • The Open Polytechnic will be doing the same at 10.00am

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Autonomy debate at University of Auckland
  2. Mediation service at University of Auckland faces closure
  3. Wisconsin to tie tertiary education funding to outcomes
  4. TEU elections

Other news

UCOL union leader Tina Smith has called on the community to show its disappointment at funding cuts in the polytechnic sector. ”Under this national government the polytechnic sector has lost approximately $60 million in funding – the size of a small polytechnic,” she said – Manawatu Standard

Apprenticeships have become much scarcer since the global financial crisis hit four years ago, forcing many businesses to lay off experienced staff, never mind taking on trainees. Concerned by low completion rates, the Government has also pushed industry training organisations (ITOs) into culling trainees who were not making progress. Between them, the recession and the cull have slashed trainee numbers by nearly 50,000, from 133,303 in 2008 to 83,413 by the end of last year – New Zealand Herald

Mass student protest is returning to London this week for the first time since a succession of occasionally chaotic marches two years ago, with organisers saying they hope to send MPs of all parties a message about the need to act – not just on education funding, but on rampant unemployment among the young – The Guardian

There are now more New Zealanders with a tertiary qualification than without one. In 2011, the proportion with a tertiary qualification increased to 52 percent, up from 50 percent in 2010. The proportion of people without any qualification reduced, while the proportion with a bachelors or higher qualification continued its steady upwards path – Profile & Trends 2011: New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector

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