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Govt. must invest in tertiary at Budget.

The New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA) is calling on the government to urgently address under-funding of universities in the upcoming Budget, following encouraging comments from the Prime Minister today.

The Prime Minster, Helen Clark, said in the Sunday Star-Times today that "there has to be a greater emphasis on access to education and in support of science, research and development" following her visit to London and Singapore

"Finally, a government that listens," said Sam Huggard, Co President of NZUSA. "We are welcoming the Prime Minister's encouraging comments, and hope that they will be followed through in the Budget."

"The previous National government had little genuine interest in tertiary education, and consequently failed to provide universities with the resources that the needed to remain accessible, high quality, research driven institutions. The Labour/Alliance government must now remedy this situation," said Sam Huggard.

"Whilst the recently established Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) has been mandated to provide wide ranging strategic advice to the government, there are still urgent issues that need to be addressed before TEAC's findings are known."

"We are calling on the government to reduce fees and reinstate universal eligibility the Community Wage - (Student) over summer as a top priority in this Budget. In addition, the government must look carefully at overall resourcing of universities, in particular the funding of research. New Zealand's expenditure on research is well below comparable OECD countries, and this does not bode well for the so called innovative 'knowledge society'", said Sam Huggard.

"It is of course simplistic to just argue for more money to be thrown at tertiary education. But it remains the case that for a university to fulfil the government's desire for them to collaborative, internationally regarded contributors to the "knowledge society", there needs to be significantly higher levels of funding," concluded Sam Huggard.

Ends.

For further comment: Sam Huggard, Co President, NZUSA, 025 86 86 73


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