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Providers Question TEC Funding Decisions

14 December 2004

Private Education Providers Question TEC Funding Decisions.

Yesterday’s announcement by the Tertiary Education Commission that less than half of funding available for private providers in 2005 has been allocated has been greeted with disappointment and anger by the private education sector.

Sandra McKersey, President of the New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers, said the private sector has responded to the government’s call for education which supports the Tertiary Education Strategy. “At no time during our discussions with TEC has the possibility of underspending the amount available ever been raised,” said Sandra McKersey.

“TEC describes private providers as ‘an integral and valuable part of the tertiary education sector’ but funding decisions do not reflect the important role of private education programmes,” said Sandra McKersey. TEC has just announced which programmes have been approved for funding in 2005 under the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF).

In announcing the funding, TEC’s General Manager Ann Clark said the SPF is intended to promote innovation within tertiary education designed to achieve the goals of the Tertiary Education Strategy. Only $9.8 million had been allocated to 87 programmes of the $23.8 million available.

Of the 537 applications, 107 were found to be ineligible, leaving 480 to be assessed against the SPF criteria. In some cases the TEC has reduced the amount of funding asked for to better reflect the demand expected in 2005 for some courses. Sandra McKersey said TEC always maintained its intention to work with private providers to ensure that the capped fund of $150 million is available to provide quality tertiary education to the students who chose to study in the private sector.

“There are some serious questions to be answered by the TEC,” said Sandra McKersey. “How does TEC intend to make the remaining $14 million available for 2005? Why have programmes which previously met the rigorous SPF criteria failed to do so this time?”

“Ironically more funds became available in this SPF round because TEC decided to change base funding on 2003 figures rather than 2001 figures. This was done with limited consultation with the sector. The justification for the change supposedly was to get unused funding back into circulation. It freed up an extra $12 million into the SPF round but caused considerable anxiety to some providers who pinned their hopes for continued viability on a successful SPF application. One can hardly blame them for a degree of scepticism at this time,” said Sandra McKersey.

The New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers recently launched its own Quality Commission Scheme offering a free resolution service to students. The inaugural Quality Commissioner, Nadja Tollemache, begins her role on 1 January.

“Members who have joined the Quality Commission scheme are demonstrating a confidence in the quality of their programmes. They guarantee a timely, fair and student-centred process. That’s the level of confidence private providers have in their programmes. This is the time for private providers to get genuine acknowledgement from TEC in terms of just and realistic funding,’ said Sandra McKersey.

ENDS


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