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Another regional polytech in trouble

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

9 February 2006

Another regional polytech in trouble

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says Labour's deal to bail out Whanganui UCOL will do nothing to solve the financial problems that are becoming increasingly endemic in the polytech sector.

The Government has approved a $3 million suspensory loan to the polytech which has battled financial problems since its controversial merger with Wanganui Polytechnic in 2002.

The move follows similar "bail outs" at Taranaki and Wellington polytechs, and Mr English says it's likely there are more to come.

"This amounts to little more than a financial subsidy for bad management, and it will only make the situation worse," he says.

"The problems in our polytechs cannot be swept under the carpet. If Dr Cullen thinks the system will be fixed by throwing more money at it he is very much mistaken."

Last year's briefing to the incoming minister shows the ministry itself believes polytechs are in bad shape and the outlook is grim. It says: '...polytechs have estimated a 2005 position which, in financial terms, is inadequate to sustain the sector's capability.'

"The polytech sector is sick but Dr Cullen is prescribing the wrong medicine," says Mr English.

ENDS

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