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Government urgently must review PTE funding

Government urgently must review PTE funding

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has today joined in calls for the Government to act urgently to redirect tuition subsidies provided to private training establishments (PTEs) back to the public tertiary education sector.

AUS National President, Neville Blampied, said in Christchurch today that the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), the Hon Steve Maharey, had given an assurance in December 1999 that he would review the level of Government subsidy for students in PTEs.

“At that time, he stated that he would review the system through which PTEs received the same tuition subsidies as public tertiary institutions and ‘put something else in place in 2001’.

“What the Minister could immediately put in place, as a matter of both fundamental principle and good practice, given the Government’s tight fiscal position, is to remove the capital component from the tuition subsidies provided to PTEs. AUS estimates this will free up almost $20m in 2002 and would provide significant extra funds for the public tertiary sector,” he said.

“PTEs receive the same funds per equivalent full-time student (EFTS) as do public tertiary institutions, and this includes a taxpayer-funded contribution to capital costs. In 1999, PTEs received public funding of $16.8m in respect of 9187 EFTS. This year the Ministry of Education estimates that PTEs will get $128.4m in respect of 21091 EFTS. This is a funding increase of 664% compared with an increase in funded student places of 130%.

“This stupendous increase have come at a time when the public tertiary institutions have come under serious funding pressure. The stress that last year’s 2.3% increase in funding in exchange for a tuition fee freeze has placed on public tertiary institutions, including universities, has been enormous and has led to dangerous cuts in teaching provision, library resources, and research funding, and has maintained cut-throat competition among institutions.

Neville Blampied added that “There is a myth abroad that cutting funding to PTEs would impact detrimentally on Maori and Pacific students. However, the facts don’t stack up.

“In 1999, there were 27,837 Maori EFTS in public tertiary institutions and 9,093 in PTEs. The comparable numbers for Pacific students were 8,241 and 2,908 respectively.

“Given that the vast majority of students (including Maori and Pacific students) study in the public tertiary sector, a Government genuinely concerned for these students would ensure that its funding policies are not damaging public institutions. Returning the capital payments from PTEs to the public sector would be a tangible demonstration of the Government’s commitment to public tertiary education which has so far been conspicuously lacking,” he said.

Contact details for Neville Blampied: 021 680 475

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