Staff in polytechnics across the country who are fighting to keepcourses open and opportunities for learners alive are calling on the Minister of Finance to step up.

This week at EIT in Napier eight horticulture tutors have been told their jobsare under threat. Tutors at the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand (SIT)Auckland also found out that one of their anchor programmes in audio was goingto be cut.

Members of Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union are appalled at theongoing jobs cuts in the polytechnic sector – cuts happening just as thegovernment and staff begin to create a unified vocational education system.

“The vision from the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, is of a vibrantnetwork of on-job and on-campus vocational courses that meet the needs oflearners, their whanau and communities, and industry,” says Michael Gilchrist,TEU National President.

Gilchrist notes that with another dozen jobs going this week alone, almost 80cut last month, and more in the pipeline, there will be very little left todeliver on the Minister’s vision.

In the last month there have been cuts at NMIT, MIT, Whitireia, and WelTec.Cuts are also proposed at Unitec. Every time staffing is cut, students,communities, and employers suffer.

In many cases it is our most vulnerable communities and learners whoseopportunities are disappearing – and with it their hopes for a better future. At MIT the courses cut affect a high number of Māori students; and this week’sannouncement around MAINZ sees cuts to core STEM papers in classes with around 40% Māori and Pacifika students.

“What’s left for MAINZ learners is to do expensive private courses, which isn’tan option for most.”

Gilchrist says “We are doing our bit. The MAINZ staff were able to stop theclosure of two programmes, but with ongoing instability and underfunding andthe existing funding model they couldn’t save them all.”

This is where the Minister of Finance comes in. The $7bn government surplusprovides room to support the well-being vision laid down at the last budget. Well-being can best be delivered by ensuring all New Zealanders have access tothe transformational power of education.

TEU is proposing less than 2% of the 2019 surplus be used to ensure all NewZealanders have access to vocational education which helps them improve theirlives and contribute to industry and the economy.