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Govt tries to blackmail tertiary institutions

Maurice Williamson National Tertiary Education Spokesperson

Monday 21 May 2001

Govt tries to blackmail tertiary institutions

Vice chancellors and polytechnic chief executives should stand their ground and reject the Government's latest funding offer, National's Tertiary Education Spokesperson Maurice Williamson said today.

"The 2.6% on offer doesn't even keep pace with inflation. What's worse though is if a tertiary institution doesn't accept the package and chooses to increase its fees to recover the revenue shortfall, it will be denied any of the new 'Centres of Excellence' money.

"Last year universities and polytechnics were adamant they couldn't withstand such funding pressure again. If they give in again this year, they will have shown the Government that its political bullying does work.

"Last year the new Government hid behind the excuse of having just been elected. It opted for a very blunt 2.3% across the board funding increase in return for tertiary institutions agreeing not to increase student fees.

"Many universities and polytechnics complained at the time that such a measure put them under extreme financial pressure. But they begrudgingly accepted the flat rate approach, which merely compensated for inflation.

"However, the tertiary institutions were also adamant that this must not happen again. Many have said they were given an assurance by Steve Maharey that by 2001 the Government would have been in office long enough to have developed a new and more flexible funding regime.

"Now it's clear that the Government is offering another flat rate, take it or leave it package. But what's being offered this year is clearly worse.

"The extreme promises made prior to the 1999 election by both Labour and the Alliance are now coming back to haunt them, the students, and the tertiary institutions who believed them.

"Mr Maharey and the Alliance's Liz Gordon travelled the country telling voters that fees would come down under a Labour-Alliance Government.

"Mr Maharey does of course have 'priors' when it comes to making huge pre-election promises which he doesn't keep when elected," Mr Williamson said.


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