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Campus Tour Ends, Concerns Grow

11 March 2002

Green MP Nandor Tanczos wrapped up his tour of around 15 tertiary institutions on Friday and says he is concerned at the state of the entire tertiary sector.

"Three terms of National Government has been a disaster for tertiary education. The funding cuts they pushed through has left a legacy of institutions starved of cash and resources.

"As a result we've had staff cuts and ever increasing fees and student debt. Academics are over-worked and struggling to get basic pay rises while this month students 'celebrated' $5 billion worth of debt since the loan scheme was introduced 10 years ago."

On the tour Nandor met with a number of branches of the Association of University Staff and student leaders at a number of campuses.

"Its important that New Zealanders don't think that students are the only losers. The underfunding of education has left university staff struggling to be paid what they are worth," said Nandor.

"Over a decade of underfunding has left tertiary institutions struggling to maintain libraries and resources, struggling to recruit and retain staff and struggling to keep class sizes down to an acceptable level. Some of the spending decisions by management haven't helped, such as the millions spent on marketing and on some pretty excessive building projects, but that does not let the Government off the hook."

During the 1990's consumer price rises totalled 18.7 per cent but, on average, a lecturers pay increased by 15.6 per cent, a senior lecturer's by 13.2 per cent and a professor's pay by 10.2 per cent. Salary increases for MPs, on the other hand, went up 37 per cent and Vice-Chancellors by 96 per cent.

"It's important that people understand how badly the universities are underfunded. The Government cannot force students into $5 billion worth of debt and force staff to strike for fair wages and then claim to support innovation," he said.

Nandor said the Greens would continue to campaign for the reintroduction of the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students, the introduction of universal student allowances and increased Government funding for the sector.

Ends

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