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Funding Slide Threatens Quality Of Uni. Education

Funding Slide Threatens Quality Of University Education

Association of University Staff
Media Release - Education reporter
Wednesday 17 March 2004

Funding slide threatens quality of university education University funding has declined 23 per cent in real terms over the past decade, according to research released today by the Association of University Staff (AUS).

The research report - University income and student numbers between 1980 and 2002 - by economists Guy and Helen Scott investigated trends in New Zealand university income and compared data with that from relevant OECD countries.

Report findings include the fact that Ministry of Education funding per domestic equivalent full-time student in universities fell, in inflation adjusted terms, from $9609 in 1992 to $7367 in 2002.

AUS National Resident Dr Bill Rosenberg noted that Government assertions that the erosion of university funding which occurred under the previous administration had now stopped were in fact incorrect. Between 1999 and 2002, Government grants to universities fell from 46 per cent to 42 per cent of total operating revenue. Over the same time, income from student tuition fees increased from 23 per cent to 29 per cent, all of that increase being from international student fees.

Dr Rosenberg pointed to the current cap on tuition fees, through the fees maxima policy, which meant that approximately two thirds of university income was now determined by the Government, even though it provided only 42 percent of operating revenue.

Universities had increased their incomes by reliance on at-risk sources such as international student fees and contestable research contracts. The report authors had commented that this situation reduced job security for staff.

The compound effect of diminished funding and high student to staff ratios would have an effect on the quality of university teaching and research, making it harder to attract academic staff in an increasingly competitive international market. Most universities were finding it harder to attract good international academic staff and there were predictions of a major international staff crisis within universities by 2010.


Please note: The research report, University income and student numbers between 1980 and 2002, will be launched on: Wednesday 17 March 2004 Turnbull House, 11 Bowen St Wellington 5.00 pm

The full report, along with accompanying tables and comment will be available on the AUS website: at 5.30pm, Wednesday 17 March.

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