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Polytechs face huge funding cuts

Hon Bill English

National Education Spokesman

28 June 2004

Polytechs face huge funding cuts

The Government's policy to cut enrolments in community education courses by 30% will mean significant funding cuts for polytechs says National education spokesman Bill English.

Acting Tertiary Education Minister, Margaret Wilson confirmed the 30% reduction at select committee last week.

"But when asked how, she couldn't give me an answer," says Mr English.

Funding for community education courses grew from $13 million in 2000 to an estimated $115 million this year.

In the Budget the Government announced it wanted to cut funding for community education by $144m over the next three years. So far they have cut the funding per student, which will save about $40 million over three years.

The cut in enrolments will add to the losses polytechs already face with another $80 million in reduced funding over the next three years.

"The government is vacillating over whether to negotiate funding cuts or force them on polytechs across the board," says Mr English.

"The blow-out was caused by a handful of polytechs but these cuts punish everyone for the actions of a few.

"These cuts will be serious for some polytechs with large community funding enrolments and they are likely to resist the policy.

"This is yet another episode that undermines the credibility of the Government Tertiary Education Strategy which is a mess of the Government's own making.

"The Government has spent millions of dollars on developing the Tertiary Education Commission which was supposed to 'steer' the sector, but clearly it has failed in its mission," says Mr English.

ENDS

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