In this special Tertiary Update we examine what Budget 2020 means for those working and studying in tertiary education; and at some of the key issues affecting members’ lives.

Budget 2020 was eagerly awaited by all New Zealanders, as we grapple with the uncertainty posed by COVID-19, and the period of increased economic insecurity we must face together.

Within Budget 2020 it’s great to see commitments that will get more people into trades and vocational training and breathe life back into community education.

Budget 2020 has signalled some hope that there will be reinvestment in tertiary education, recognising its value for our families and communities. But more will be needed.

For over a decade now, TEU has been fighting for improved funding to allow for accessible publicly funded education for all New Zealanders.

TEU supports the increased long-term investment in trades and community education included in the Budget, as we know, educational value is about more than economic recovery. 

The tertiary sector has borne the brunt of chronic underfunding by successive governments for over a decade, often with no increase in Vote Tertiary Education. This year there is a modest increase for the entire sector of 1.6% and a strong additional spend on trades education, but it certainly doesn’t  fill the overall funding gap which leads to course closures and students missing out. The government must move urgently on its promised new funding model.

Added to the long-term funding woes, New Zealand’s COVID-19 response has undercut the revenue raised from international students in our public tertiary institutions.

TEU tumu whakarae national president Michael Gilchrist says “Over the next few months we will be working to find ways to buffer the impact of the loss of international students. We need the government to convene a national hui to address this issue. We cannot allow our public tertiary education institutions to again be so reliant on revenue from international students. We are much to vulnerable to shocks of this kind.  

For all New Zealanders there is real benefit in ensuring much of the remaining $20 billion of the COVID recovery fund be allocated to future proofing in this area and to other pressing needs within tertiary education ”

Staff in lecture theatres, libraries, workshops, students support services, and labs have together been working hard to ensure all students have ongoing access to tertiary education. But this Budget doesn’t fill the overall gap in tertiary education funding which would ensure that we can help New Zealanders have a brighter future. It’s a start, but together we can do better.

As a union, community, and family members, and as passionate advocates of equity there are a range of funding boosts that we must acknowledge and applaud. However, we know that yesterday’s announcement was just a first step in our recovery as a country.

In this year’s TEU Budget 2020 Special:

1. Te Uepū Māori commends investment in opportunities and support for Māori

2. Gender equity must be at the heart of our response to COVID-19

3. From ‘wellbeing budget’ to ‘first aid budget’

4. A historic boost for the health sector

5. Budget does not go far enough in addressing needs of most vulnerable

6. Environmental solutions must first address causes

7. Budget fails to provide sufficient support for students