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Strategy means nothing if government restricts access

Strategy means nothing if government keeps restricting access

The high ideals of the Tertiary Education Strategy released today mean nothing alongside a government determined to see tertiary education as a cost to cut rather than an investment in our future, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“There are plenty of nice words about the importance of tertiary education in the strategy, but they are in sharp contrast to the deeds of this government.

“National has cut tens of millions of dollars of funding from polytechnics, abolished allowances for postgraduate study and restricted access to loans and allowances schemes.

“Whatever good there is in this strategy is compromised by the actions of this government.

“As the year begins for tertiary institutions we are hearing reports of declining numbers of postgraduate students at a number of universities. Meanwhile at polytechnics budgets are stretched beyond breaking point, leading to strike action from staff and a number of courses not being offered. This is a direct result of action by the National government.

“Labour supports work on the priority areas that are identified in the strategy, but without balancing goals in other areas they indicate a government that views tertiary education like an accountant - knowing the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

“We all want tertiary education to provide the skilled workforce of tomorrow, but it has a much wider value to society which is not recognised in this strategy.

“The danger of this approach is that it will flow through to the funding of programmes and will see courses dropped that don’t fit the narrow view of the National Party.

“The strategy will force institutions to place more emphasis on attracting international students in order to meet their basic budgets. While there is value in international education it should not become the overwhelming focus of our tertiary providers.

“Labour believes that access to a quality tertiary education system is essential to providing opportunity for all New Zealanders. This can only happen when the government is committed to supporting both the economic and social value of tertiary education and giving support to students to meet their needs.

“National is failing on both counts,” Grant Robertson said.

Ends

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