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Budget 2006: Tertiary sector vital for economy

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister for Tertiary Education

Tertiary sector vital for economic transformation

Budget 2006 reinforces the Labour-led government's commitment to revitalise tertiary education and training to ensure we have quality institutions producing skilled graduates needed for a modern economy, said Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen.

"In the next financial year the tertiary sector will absorb $2.9 billion of operational expenditure. We are determined to get better value for our investment and this is why the tertiary reforms I outlined last month are aimed at producing a system better focused on producing the kinds of graduates our economy needs.

"Budget 2006 also underlines the government's drive to make tertiary education more affordable with funding for interest free student loans amounting to $1 billion over the next four years and changes to student allowances."

Budget 2006 allocates $166.4 million of new operational funding in the tertiary sector over the next four years. This includes critical initiatives to enhance training and research:

• $33.5 million to improve literacy, numeracy and language skills.
• $58 million for training for industry.
• $12.7 million to boost Career Services rapuara. This will establish a "one stop shop" for job seekers to access high quality, up-to-date course and training information via telephone, website and face-to-face services. This will ensure better decisions are made when job seekers are evaluating the myriad of education options available.
• The Performance Based Research Fund will receive $23.7 million of additional funding over the next four years. This is in line with Labour's 2005 manifesto promise to boost the PBRF to $250 million by 2010. The fund provides vital research funding to tertiary institutions on the basis of their research performance.
• $7 million to increase research in critical areas such as nursing, education and ICT.

In addition, Budget 2006 invests $40 million of capital funding from 2005/06 to 2009/10 to fund six projects under the Partnerships for Excellence programme.

"These initiatives underline the Labour-led government's desire to improve the quality of our tertiary education and training system so students and employers can have greater confidence that it is attuned to their needs," Dr Cullen concluded.

ENDS

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