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Mixed Messages From Government

The government announced last year that they are to allow "…funding to follow the student…" to justify their introduction of the Universal Tertiary Training Allowance. Today they claim that "New Zealand is too small to support 7 universities and 31 other institutions…" and therefore they wish to intervene to ensure students are studying what the government wants them to.

"This is a very worrying development," said APSU Student Union President John Barkess. "They may be laying the ground work to close down, or force the merger of smaller institutions such as rural polytechnics."

"Polytechnics are small and located throughout the country for a very good reason," said Barkess. "They are designed to give access to education to all New Zealanders not just those in the main-centres. They are designed to provide the type of education needed for local economies. They are not designed to be businesses nor are they designed to be controlled by businesses."

"Traditionally polytechnics have always worked closely with the industry groups, requesting input into qualifications to ensure their graduates have the necessary skills to use immediately in the work force. We are concerned that this local responsiveness would be lost if we move towards a conglomerate of tertiary providers."

"The government needs to decide, and be honest, do they want a market driven education system as they pushed last year or does the government want to decide what, when and where people should study as they have indicated today? I suspect the left hand of the National Party is not talking to the right, which is resulting in confusing messages being sent to the tertiary sector."

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