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University Staff welcome innovation strategy

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has enthusiastically welcomed Government’s announcement of an innovation strategy in the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament yesterday.

AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan, says it is particularly pleasing to note the inclusion of tertiary education policy and strong investment in education as key elements in the Prime Minister’s speech.

“The work of the Tertiary Education Commission has set a challenging agenda for policy-makers and for the universities over the coming year.

“The talents and contributions of university staff to education and research are being recognised as a vital component in the development of a strong and innovative economy,” he said.

The AUS also welcomed the inclusion of the creative industries as one of the sectors singled out for economic development.

Dr Duncan commented that this indicates that the present government values the arts and humanities. He hoped this would translate into strong support for research and scholarship in areas such as New Zealand literature, film studies and history.

But while the Prime Minister claimed that her government had reduced the cost of tertiary education for students, she gave no indication of how much extra financial support the universities could expect, he said.

“The government’s stated commitment to innovation and education will need to be matched by a financial commitment to increase our national investment in tertiary education.”

Government support per equivalent full-time student in university education had fallen by 39% in real terms between 1980 and 1999; and the present government, while putting a freeze on the costs of student fees, has barely kept university funding in pace with inflation.

‘We sincerely hope’, said Dr Duncan, ‘that the Prime Minister’s latest comments will be followed through by real reinvestment in university education and research in this year’s Budget.”

AUS Contacts:

Dr Grant Duncan, National President 021 680 475

Rob Crozier, Executive Director 021 375 661

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