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No accountability for $15.3m scam

5 August 2004

No accountability for $15.3m scam

National's Education spokesman Bill English says Steve Maharey has turned a blind eye to a $15.3 million funding scam at Christchurch Polytechnic.

"Maharey can't even slap a wet bus ticket on management who have ruthlessly exploited the funding system and the government officials who let it happen.

"The Tertiary Education Commission's report into CPIT, released today, shows that Steve Maharey and the commission have effectively endorsed CPIT's collection of $15.3 million of taxpayers money for a CD-based course with no assessment, no supervision and no qualification.

The report shows:

* CPIT set out to deliberately exploit funding loopholes before they were closed. [PAR 32,102]

* Only 3% of enrolled students are known to have completed the course. That's $30,815 for each of the 603 students who completed the course. [PAR 65]

* The Government payment for the course is so large that CPIT made a profit of 92 cents in every dollar of taxpayer revenue. [EXEC SUM 10 (F)

* Of the 18,000 enrolments, 13,000 did not fit the Government's funding criteria, but no action will be taken. [PAR 66, 69, 71]

* Senior TEC and Ministry officials knew about CPIT's plans and endorsed them. [PAR 125-128, 139]

* CPIT's only teaching input was a 7-10 minute introductory course. [PAR 63]

"Effectively, they set out to harvest EFTS to improve their financial position. CPIT rapidly generated a network of people they paid to help them enrol thousands of students ahead of a Christmas deadline. Whether or not these students would actually complete the course appears never to have been a consideration," says Mr English.

"Even though the report tries to brush over this shambles, there is enough evidence for Steve Maharey to take strong measures of accountability. Repayment of $80,000 is not enough. The polytech's council must be held to account.

"The public rely on professionalism in the tertiary sector and a Minister with the ability and willingness to crack down on bad behaviour but, in this case, there is a complete failure of accountability," says Mr English.

ENDS

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