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Community education funding changes announced

Community education funding changes announced

New funding arrangements for community education courses taught by public tertiary institutions were announced today.

The government has decided to reduce and cap the total funding available for classification 5.1 courses, which covers courses for part-time students often lasting only a few weeks. Evening classes in secondary schools are not funded via this mechanism. Over the next three years (2003/04 to 2006/07) approximately $144 million of anticipated funding for these courses will be reinvested in other higher priority tertiary education courses.

As part of these changes, the funding rate for classification 5.1 will be reduced from $5707 per equivalent fulltime student (EFTS) to $5000 for 2005. This represents a funding rate cut of 12.4 per cent for this type of education. The average community education student was enrolled for a course load of 0.074 EFTS, which is equivalent to about 2 and a half weeks full-time study. The average funding rate under the new rules is therefore $370 per student.

Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said the new rules, developed after consultation with the tertiary education sector, ensure the continued provision of community education, while freeing up funding for higher priority courses.

“Community education has long had a niche role in the tertiary education system, chiefly at the nation’s polytechnics, offering low cost and flexible learning opportunities for ordinary New Zealanders. The funding changes announced today confirm the government’s commitment to this type of education in to the future.

“Substantial growth in both student numbers and total funding for community education that has occurred at a few institutions, particularly over the past year, has led the government to act to ensure that further unexpected increases do not occur over the 2004 to 2006 period. The funding changes will return overall spending to between 2002 and 2003 levels, with funding available for 2005 and 2006 depending on how much is spent this year.

“The Tertiary Education Commission, through its profile negotiations for 2005, will allocate funding in accordance with the overall Tertiary Education Strategy. This may result in less than the full cap being allocated. It would be prudent for institutions not to increase their community education enrolments in 2004 and ensure that their courses are in line with the goals of the Strategy,” Steve Maharey said.

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