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More investment needed for universities

Association of University Staff

Media Release
Attn Education Reporter 21 May 2006

More investment needed for universities

The Association of University Staff (AUS) is calling for greater investment in New Zealand universities in the 2008 Budget to ensure that they are sufficiently funded to meet the country’s research and education challenges of the twenty-first century.

AUS National President, Associate Professor Maureen Montgomery, has warned that the university sector is facing a funding crisis, particularly in terms of salaries, and that this is likely to compromise the high quality and good reputation of New Zealand’s university system unless addressed as a matter of priority. She said that the need for major funding increases has been made the more pressing with the announcement in the recent Australian Budget of more than $A2 billion in new policy initiatives for higher education in that country,” she said. “Their Budget announcement included the establishment of a new $A11 billion Education Investment Fund and a one-off allocation of $A500 million for capital development.”

Associate Professor Montgomery said that New Zealand will need between 700 and 800 new academic staff by 2010-11, a time when it is predicted that there will be a worldwide shortage of academics. By then, the European Union countries alone will need an additional 10 to 15,000 new academic staff just to cope with increasing student numbers.

“Every university system in the world is currently in an increasingly competitive market to recruit and retain top-class academic and support staff,” Associate Professor Montgomery said. “Providing funding targeted at improving salaries is an important part of ensuring the vitality and the high quality of New Zealand universities.”

Associate Professor Montgomery said that the long-term well-being of the country would be better served by increasing investment in universities as a part of the 2008 Budget, rather than by cutting taxes as has been advocated by those with a more narrow and short-term outlook.

ENDS

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