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Government sacrificing students for cash

Media Release
Tertiary Education Union
18 December 2012

Government sacrificing students for cash

Today's half-yearly economic and fiscal update from Treasury paints a bleak picture for tertiary education.

The key data is in the Core Crown Expenses Table 6.8 (Tertiary Education). What it shows is the government spent nearly $50 million less on tuition this year (a cut of 2 percent) despite having the equivalent of 10,000 more full-time students than it had last year.

Overall, tertiary funding has fallen by three quarters of a billion dollars, or twenty percent since this government's first budget in 2009. That does not include adjustments for inflation. CPI has risen by 6.9 percent during the same period.

Treasury forecasts equivalent full-time student numbers to remain close to their record high right through until 2017. However, it also forecasts government spending on tertiary education to remain at least $400 million less than it was in 2009, for the next five years. The government seems happy to spend less on today's 13-year-olds than it spent on today's 22-year-olds.

Treasury forecasts the government will cut spending to student allowances by over $150 million over the next five years. This means that students will have to take larger student loans to pay for their cost of living. So, the only new tertiary education spending of any real value is on student debt that the government hopes to claim back off our future students.

The finance minister Bill English says these figures show the government is on track:

"This programme is helping New Zealanders and their families to get ahead, encouraging personal responsibility and rewarding people for hard work and enterprise."

Meanwhile, the government is currently spending about a quarter of a billion per year more on unemployment than it was in 2009 because there are no jobs for people who want to work. People who want skills and education to find a job will find it harder and harder to get an allowance to study. That seems like a pretty poorly considered economic policy, eh?


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