The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) welcomed the Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins’ announcement today that he will inject a further $31.7 million into the tertiary education sector to ensure students continue to get the best possible learning experience at institutions up and down the country.Funding for per-student subsidy rates will be boosted by 1.6 percent from 2019, and will be paid for within the spending limits announced in the recent Budget. The TEU said it welcomed the increase as a sign that the Minister is taking seriously the challenges left behind by the previous National Government. After the disappointment of the Budget, where no additional funding for the tertiary sector was announced, today’s increase will help to stabilise the sector whilst essential work is done to reform the sector and the way it is funded.Government officials from the Ministry for Education and the Tertiary Education Commission are currently working to implement the Minister’s ambitious Education Work Plan. As Chris Hipkins points out in today’s media release, this work must include a detailed review of the last government’s failed funding system – a model that has caused so many of the problems policymakers are now trying to address.Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said:

“Today’s announcement will be a welcome relief for many in the tertiary education sector. The Minister should be congratulated for recognising the challenges facing our public institutions and for stepping up to support them whilst we work together to solve the mess left by the last National Government.
“We have been saying for years that the funding system is broken and we are pleased that the Minister has taken on board our concerns and committed to reviewing the way the sector is funded. However, whilst announcements like the one the Minister made today are welcome, these mid-year funding increases cannot become the norm. What the Minister needs to do is get us together as sector to discuss how we are going to put in place a sustainable funding system that recognises different community and student needs.”

Whilst the TEU welcomed today’s announcement, it did also warn the government that the benefits of the funding boost could soon be lost if the Minister for Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway pursues his current proposal to change student post-study work rights. Over nine years, the previous National-led Government changed the tertiary education sector and cut funds by so much that many institutions now depend on attracting increasing numbers of international students to maintain financial viability. Iain Lees-Galloway needs to be careful to ensure there are no knock-on effects on public institutions that National has made reliant on fees from international students, the TEU said.