Organisation Devastated As Funding Slashed
19 December 2008
Training Organisation Devastated As Funding Slashed
A private tertiary training organisation in the Bay of Plenty has had funding slashed, despite being oversubscribed.
Staff and students at Active Training, which runs courses for at-risk youth and the long-term unemployed, are devastated by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) decision.
"We've lost 40 percent of our funding, which means we also lose 40 percent of our staff and 40 percent of our students," Active Training director Stephen Lee says.
At the end of 2007 the organisation had funding cut by six percent, and were advised to increase student numbers to avoid further cuts. To rectify this, the company invested in a van, a bus service and additional training facilities, at a cost of over $100,000.
"Our investment paid off last year. In 2008 we were running at 112 percent of the places we were funded for, and were covering the excess cost ourselves," Stephen says. "To be told we're losing almost half our funding, after doing so well, is a huge blow."
Staff at the centres had hoped the National Government's Youth Guarantee policy, which promised a universal education entitlement for all 16 and 17 year olds, would ensure the future of the centres.
"The policy recognised that some students could be more motivated to achieve in non-school settings, like wananga, polytechnics and private training establishments. We were hoping that would mean more places, instead we're having to close two of our three centres."
The Katikati centre has closed altogether, which means there is no longer a training provider in the area. In Mount Maunganui a computing and business administration course has been cancelled and the number of places on a course designed at getting sickness and domestic purpose beneficiaries back to work has been halved.
Stephen says students have been understandably upset at the news.
"We have had to send letters to advising that they won't be able to complete their study with us. In many cases these are people who have turned their lives around, from being almost unemployable to being motivated to achieve and succeed. We've been fielding calls from students and parents who are shattered."
He says they've had no real explanation as to why the funding has been cut and attempts to communicate with the TEC are becoming fraught.
"We understand the pressure bureaucrats in Wellington must be under, particularly in light of the TEC's $5million overspend on its own staff last year. However, we are trying to reach a solution that ensures real people in real communities can access the kind of education that can change lives."