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Viable Future For Wanganui Tertiary Education

Embargoed until 3pm, Friday 7 September 2001
7 September 2001 Media Statement

Consultation To Begin On Viable Future For Wanganui Tertiary Education

Public consultation will start next week on a viable option to deliver tertiary education in Wanganui, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey said he was considering officials advice to pursue a partnership with Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic (WRCP) with UCOL – who successfully provide education in Palmerston North, Levin and the Wairarapa – and to preserve community involvement in the polytechnic through the development of a Community Charter and the establishment of a Wanganui Advisory Committee.

The continued availability of quality tertiary education is an essential tool in the development of a regional development strategy for Wanganui.

"The Government has been considering a number of options to preserve educational provision in Wanganui, including those put forward in a Community Working Party report.

"While the Working Party's report provided valuable input, the Government has to be sure that its proposals are robust as well as financially and educationally sustainable. Clearly we were concerned that the option preferred by the Working Party relied for its success on the cooperation of contracting partners who have since indicated an unwillingness to participate in the scheme.

"WRCP has been in a precarious financial position for the last twelve years. Losses have been incurred in all but two of those years. By the end of 2001 the Government will have provided more than $11m of debt funding simply to keep the WRCP operating.

"Our primary concern has been to ensure the ongoing provision of tertiary education in Wanganui and the protection of students' education.

"By combining the polytechnic with another tertiary institution we can offer the local community long-term provision of high quality tertiary education in Wanganui. This option also increases the possibility of developing programmes that are responsive to the needs of Wanganui employers and students.
"A combination with UCOL would also offer students a richer range of courses and greater professional opportunities for staff.

"I have invited UCOL, in conjunction with Wanganui Community and the Ministry of Education, to develop a proposal around this option. Next week I intend starting formal public consultation on the UCOL partnership proposal," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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