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Community Education Investigation - at last

Hon Bill English

National Education Spokesman

11 August 2004

Community Education Investigation - at last

After months of pressure, Steve Maharey has finally agreed to an investigation into shady community education courses at polytechs around the country, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

But Mr English says the real issue is financial accountability.

In response to a parliamentary question this afternoon, the Minister responsible for Tertiary Education has confirmed that he will extend his investigation to cover a further $80 million worth of taxpayer-funded courses.

A recent investigation into Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) showed that millions of dollars were spent on courses in violation of government regulations.

"The CPIT investigation found that 13,000 students didn't fit the funding criteria because the Polytech can't prove that they completed the course or even began it," says Mr English.

"Other polytechs are now in the spotlight for similar violations. I suspect Tairawhiti will have serious trouble proving that the 46,000 students enrolled in its radio sing-a-long course even turned on the radio.

"But the Minister has been forced to rely on CPIT's good-will to get any of the money back.

"An investigation is all well and good but the real issue is accountability. At present, the Tertiary Education Commission has no jurisdiction to claim the funds back.

"The Minister must take urgent action to ensure that polytechs that break the rules pay the price," says Mr English.

ENDS

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