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Govt Holds Tertiary Institutions To Ransom

New Zealand's public tertiary institutions are being held to ransom by a Government desperately trying to pass the cost of keeping their pre-election promises on to the institutions, National's Education spokesman Gerry Brownlee said today.

"The 2.6% fee freeze offer is a kick in the teeth for our tertiary institutions that agreed to the deal last year in the hope that a better offer would be on the table this time. Last year's deal cost tertiary institutions $17.1million. This year's deal will force cutbacks or debt of around $80 million on the financially-strapped public tertiary institutions.

"To make matters worse, if the tertiary institutions don't accept the offer, the Government will take away the 2.3% increase they got this year as well.

"The Government is playing hardball with our universities and it's education quality that will suffer.

"Canterbury University's Darryl Le Grew says 'if we accept the offer we're still behind the eight-ball financially so quality will suffer and the students will suffer that way. If we don't take the offer, then we're forced to look at a package of fee rises and slash and burn in the universities and quality goes down that way as well. So quality of tertiary education is the matter that's at issue here'.

"Despite Mr Maharey's rhetoric, he's not even helping the student debt problem. The irony of the Government's policy was encapsulated by the Association of Polytechnics' Jim Doyle who says 'student debt is actually increasing under this Government and not decreasing. There are vastly more students taking up the debt now because of the interest reduction on student debt so there's an irony there, that the institutions are having to pay for a policy that is supposed to be reducing student debt but is actually doing the opposite'.

"The Minister talks about lowering the cost of education for our students but by holding our universities to ransom he will deliver students a second rate one," Mr Brownlee said.


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