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NZ universities view budget as step in the right direction

MEDIA RELEASE 15 May 2014

NZ universities view budget as step in the right direction

Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara welcomes student achievement component (SAC) funding increases announced in today’s budget for science, agriculture, pharmacy and physiotherapy on a per capita basis.

It is also strongly supportive of increased investment for four more Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs), including a CoRE dedicated to Māori development research, and contestable science funding.

“The budget includes some very good news for universities which will use these funding increases to create new knowledge and skills and to build on their current contributions to research and innovation for the benefit of the country,” says Universities NZ Deputy Chair and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago Professor Harlene Hayne.

“It is pleasing that the Government has recognised that our universities are central to the drive to create smart, innovative societies.”

Professor Hayne says that New Zealand should be very proud that all of the country’s eight universities are ranked in the top 500 of nearly 18,000 universities worldwide.

“These rankings are extremely positive and reflect that we have one of the most efficient university systems in the world. We have been delivering excellent value for money for many years but we are getting close to a tipping point. Independent data show that we are falling seriously behind other countries in terms of our low investment on a per student basis.”

“Despite today’s good news in the budget for some subjects, the funding for other subjects remains flat and that is a major concern. Investment on a per student basis is one of the key drivers of rankings and has led New Zealand universities to slip down in the rankings in recent years.”

“Rankings are taken very seriously by Governments and universities. While they cannot and should not dictate the way universities organise themselves, they are becoming a broad measure of quality used by students and staff.”

“If the New Zealand universities continue to slip in the rankings they will not attract and retain the best staff and students. New Zealand must invest more in our universities so we can compete in an increasingly crowded, competitive international market.”

Professor Hayne urges all political parties contesting the upcoming election to make clear their position on investment in universities.

“We are talking about investment in our institutions. Student support funding is a vitally important issue but students need to get value for their fees by attending well-funded universities offering a world class education.”

Professor Hayne says that with all government budgets the devil will be in the detail and Universities NZ will be evaluating the funding allocations in more detail to understand the full implications for the university sector.

Universities NZ also supports increased funding for:

• The rebuild of science and engineering facilities at the University of Canterbury

• More medical student places

• Investment in ICT training

• Equity funding pool for Māori and Pasifika students

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