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Students continue to pay for $15m CPIT scam

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

15 March 2006

Students continue to pay for $15m CPIT scam

Students At Christchurch Polytechnic (CPIT) will continue to pay the price for Labour's botched handling of the polytech's $15 million COOL-IT scam for the next three years, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

In select committee last week, TEC Chief Executive Janice Shiner confirmed that CPIT has not returned a single cent of the $3.5 million it was ordered to repay following an independent evaluation of the COOL-IT course in late 2004.

In response to questions in Parliament today, Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said CPIT would not make any repayments but would instead receive reduced funding for the next three years.

Mr English says this is the equivalent of a slap with a wet bus ticket for CPIT's management which ruthlessly exploited the funding system, and the government officials who let it happen.

"No one has been held to account. The only people who will pay the price for this scam will be current and future CPIT students, through reduced services.

"In August 2004, then Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey said 'where people have misused or inappropriately used the Government funding, that money should be paid back.' Today the new Minister has confirmed that not one cent will be repaid, instead funding will be cut.

"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, successive Labour Ministers have overseen a complete failure of accountability," says Mr English.

"Michael Cullen should make an example of CPIT and show that organisations that cannot be trusted to make sensible decisions with taxpayers' money will not get away with it."

The Tertiary Education Commission's report into CPIT found that:

* The polytech had deliberately exploited funding loopholes.

* 13,000 of the 18,000 enrolments did not fit the Government's funding criteria.

* Just 3% of students were known to have completed the course.

* The state payment for the course was so large that CPIT made a profit of 92 cents in every dollar of taxpayer revenue it received.

ENDS

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