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UCOL’s cook school plans recipe for a mess

Dr Paul Hutchison MP
National Party Tertiary Education Spokesman

7 May 2008

UCOL’s cook school plans recipe for a mess

The Government must explain how UCOL is able to establish a branch of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Wellington, contrary to its anti-regionalisation policy, says National’s Tertiary Education spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

“This school was originally planned for Martinborough, but UCOL, partly because of consent issues and partly because of cost overruns at its Wanganui campus, has decided it’s cheaper to refurbish premises in Wellington.

“The fact that Wairarapa has lost the school is a real shame.

“But I would like to know how UCOL is allowed to establish the school in Wellington, contrary to Tertiary Education Commission’s policy that stops out-of-region provision of services.

“The decision to let UCOL move the school to Wellington sends a messy, inconsistent signal, and the Government needs to explain.

“I also believe UCOL needs to be thoroughly audited, both for its mismanagement of a major project at its Wanganui campus, where cost overruns consumed the $7 million earmarked for the cooking school, and for the abandonment of the Martinborough plan.

“TEC also needs to explain why a publically funded polytechnic is setting up an institution that will basically cater for overseas students as a money making venture.

“Surely this is the sort of venture that the private sector should be taking on, as has happened successfully in Auckland and Queenstown.

“It seems the Government and TEC are not learning from their mistakes at the Western Institute of Technology, where millions of dollars were lost in similar circumstances, resulting in them becoming a chronic basket case, now under a Crown commissioner.

“They have shown again they can’t apply credible and consistent rules.

“They have wasted about $1 billion of precious education funding in the past nine years and now it looks as though they’re encouraging UCOL to waste more.”


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