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Labour's tertiary ed strategy an expensive failure

Labour's tertiary education strategy an expensive failure

Massive enrolments in heavily funded, low-value, low-cost courses have lead to budget blowouts and have shown Labour's much-heralded tertiary education strategy to be nothing more than an expensive failure, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

Over the past three years, while growth in trade training has been capped, growth in community education courses has exploded. In 2000, the Government paid out $13m for 85,500 students. In 2003 the government paid out $105m for 461,000 enrolments.

"Last year, Steve Maharey said he would ensure that 'student enrolments are concentrated in areas of high performance and high strategic relevance'. Something has gone awry as we now have thousands enrolled in twilight golf, coffee making and personal grooming courses," says Mr English.

"Even the Minister has described these courses as being of 'dubious' quality.

Gisborne-based Tairawhiti Polytech enrolled 46,000 people in community education courses, more than population of Gisborne at the time of the last census. Christchurch Polytechnic enrolled more than 96,000 people almost a third of Christchurch's population, including 76,000 in one CD-based course.

''These numbers tell the story of an expensive failure. After five years of endless talk and bureaucratic process, Steve Maharey's tertiary strategy has resulted in this nonsense."

"Students, aspiring apprentices, researchers and industry trainees will be frustrated to see so much wastage, while they were told the Government couldn't afford to back them.

Despite huge demand, trade training has increased by $40miliion since 2000. At the same time community education spending increased by $92million.

"The Government must crack down on this waste and get it's spending priorities in order," says Mr English.

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