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Reviews can't rewrite history

Hon Bill English - National Party Education Spokesman

28 February 2005

Reviews can't rewrite history

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says the announcement of four reviews into tertiary education training and provision is an admission that Labour's tertiary education strategy has failed.

"But reviews conducted by the bureaucrats that administered and oversaw this mess won't achieve anything. Reviews can't rewrite history.

"Reviews are all well and good but Labour's tertiary policy hasn't changed a bit and it continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into dodgy courses while starving trade and skills training.

"Unfortunately, Labour's policy is so embedded that many institutions rely on it continuing, to keep their operations viable," says Mr English.

Since Labour created TEC in 2000, it has spent $2.5 billion on low-level, sub-degree courses, offered mainly by polytechs and wänanga. $1.75 billion of this has been hosed away on the 70% of sub-degree students who fail to complete their courses.

Last year, Gisborne's Tairwahiti Polytech enrolled 46,000 people in community education courses, more than the city's entire population at the last census.

"The TEC story is one of a multimillion-dollar failure. After five years of endless talk and bureaucratic process, Labour's strategy has been nothing but nonsense," says Mr English.

"Labour's education funding priorities are all wrong. Since it came into office, funding for tertiary education has grown at three times the rate of funding for primary and secondary education, and funding for trade training is so tight that apprentices are being laid off."

Despite an upsurge in interest in trade training, organisations such as the electrical trades training organization have been denied additional government funding.

"Because Labour is spending so much on dodgy courses at wänanga and other polytechs, the trades have had to stop taking on apprentices and cap the number an employer can take on," says Mr English.

"Any attempt to unwind this stupidity will hurt regional polytechs and wänanga badly."

ENDS

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