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Tim Shadbolt is wrong

7 January 2008

Tim Shadbolt is wrong

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt is wrong to complain at Southland Institute of Technology’s loss of some government funding for courses it runs outside Southland.

The courses which SIT now runs in Christchurch for example are already available through the local Christchurch polytech and a pointless and hugely wasteful turf war has been fought between the two institutions in recent years. This adds nothing to education but the false notion of choice based on glossy brochures.

The focus for SIT should be to provide the highest quality education to all students in its local area rather than to pick the low-hanging fruit elsewhere.

We applaud the government’s policy to change from “bums on seats” funding to funding based on three year approved plans for tertiary education with the focus shifting to quality education rather than pointless and wasteful competition. Our major criticism is that it has taken Labour almost nine years of lost time to implement the policy.

In some ways we can sympathise with a mayor defending his local patch, particularly when operating outside the local area SIT has generated enough income, with the support of local Southland businesses, to develop a “fees-free” policy. But Tim Shadbolt needs to open his eyes and look at the broader picture for all our students.

Narrow parochialism has a limited place in education and it would be a tragedy for all young New Zealanders – including those from Southland – if Mayor Shadbolt’s campaign to undermine the new funding mechanism is successful.


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