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Statistics that damn.

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has today deplored the findings of a report into university funding in New Zealand. Guy Scott’s report on funding in New Zealand universities since 1980 shows an annual decline of 2.3% per student in real terms over that 20-year period.

AUS President, Neville Blampied, said in Wellington today that successive New Zealand Governments had used an argument based on the private benefit that students received from their tertiary education to reduce savagely the amount of taxpayer subsidy per student.

“The report shows that funding for each student in a New Zealand university has reduced on average by one third in real terms over the past two decades,” said Neville Blampied.

“One of the associated costs for students has been an increase in the student:staff ratio of 50% during this same period, meaning that students are not able to access quality time with teaching staff. This is emphasised further by the damning statistic that since 1994, the proportion of academic staff in New Zealand universities has dropped from 45% of all staff to 40%.

“The average student:staff ratio in 1998 for New Zealand universities was 18.4:1. This would put the New Zealand system in line with the bottom 4 of Britain’s 96 universities. The median student:staff ratio in Britain is 12.3:1.

“The recent budget announcement of a 2.3% increase for 2001 provided institutions hold their fee levels constant will do nothing to rescue the system or reverse the funding cut trends identified by Guy Scott’s research,” said Neville Blampied.

“Treasury is predicting that inflation will be 2.3% in 2001 and some commercial commentators are suggesting a rate closer to 3%.

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