New budget spending of $3.8 billion to improve the lives of working people and their families - the largest new spending in over a decade – is welcomed by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union. But the aspirations are reliant on a strong tertiary education sector – a sector which has missed out on real investment for the 11th year running.
“We applaud investment in mental health, more teachers, housing first, transitions for youth in state care, and major spend on sexual and family violence programmes” says TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs.
“But the lack of significant new investment in tertiary education could harm the government's long-term aspirations. To improve well-being you need more teachers, Pasifika nurses, social workers, builders, addiction counsellors –yet parts of our tertiary education system are crumbling away.”
The government has recognised the need for major changes in the tertiary education sector with its review of vocational education and tagging of unspent monies from the last year - $197 million – to improve the vocational education sector.
And the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has repeatedly acknowledged the overall funding crisis which has brewed after nine years of neglect of tertiary education by the last National government.
“Given this recognition we are disappointed again that there is no attempt to substantially invest in the well-being of our students, communities, and environment by putting new money into tertiary education. The sector is just going to keep crumbling with funding that barely recognizes the cost of education inflation.”
“The government is staying very safely inside the current fiscal responsibility targets. It has money in the bank for a rainy day. For many students and staff in the tertiary education sector the rain is pouring through the rooves of their institutions because of chronic long-term underfunding.”
Riggs says we need the Minister of Education to set in place a plan to address the gap between the cost of running the sector and the funding put in.
“Just like the teachers who took strike action yesterday, the staff in the tertiary education sector have no more to give.”
Sharn Riggs, National Secretary, +64 27 443 8768
Sandra Grey, Political Officer, +64 21 844176