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Alliance supports calls for rethink of SIT Funding

Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday 7 December 2007

Alliance supports calls for rethink of SIT Funding

The Alliance Party is supporting the call from the Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill for the Tertiary Education Commission to reconsider its recent funding decisions.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says these decisions will have a serious impact on Southern Institute of Techology and its students.

"They will drastically reduce the number of students SIT is able to provide education for, affect it's ability to offer free fees in the future and put its innovative SIT2Lrn internet programmes in jeopardy."

Ms Murray says SIT offers a wide range of practical and trades based courses aimed at creating a skilled workforce.

"Southland is an area which has always had difficulty attracting qualified and skilled workers. It relies heavily on being able to upskill people who already live there, such as parents wishing to reenter the workforce."

She says most of these people are not able to move out of the region to upskill and can't afford to pay fees as well as other associated costs such as childcare costs.

Ms Murray says the SIT2Lrn programmes offer the same affordable opportunities to upskill or retrain to people in other parts of New Zealand who cannot afford to give up their present job, relocate to a main centre, or need to study from home while caring for dependants or children.

"These courses are mainly entry level and in areas of extreme skill shortages such as horticulture, health sciences, business studies, and computing."

She says the Alliance wants to remind New Zealanders that the Labour government has pledged to eliminate the barriers to participation in tertiary education and provide a training system that will support New Zealand's economic and social development.

The Alliance Party urges the new minister for Tertiary Education Pete Hodgson to ensure that Labour honours its pledge.

Ms Murray says he must support SIT in its efforts to provide affordable and accessible education and insist that the TEC do likewise.

The Alliance supports fully free education funded through progressive taxation, including universal student benefits and the abolition of the student loans scheme.

ENDS

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