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Urgent meeting needed on funding of VET provision


Staff in polytechnics across the country who are fighting to keep courses open and opportunities for learners alive are calling on the Minister of Finance to step up.

This week at EIT in Napier eight horticulture tutors have been told their jobs are under threat. Tutors at the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand (SIT) Auckland also found out that one of their anchor programmes in audio was going to be cut.

Members of Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union are appalled at the ongoing jobs cuts in the polytechnic sector – cuts happening just as the government and staff begin to create a unified vocational education system.

“The vision from the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, is of a vibrant network of on-job and on-campus vocational courses that meet the needs of learners, their whanau and communities, and industry,” says Michael Gilchrist, TEU National President.

Gilchrist notes that with another dozen jobs going this week alone, almost 80 cut last month, and more in the pipeline, there will be very little left to deliver on the Minister’s vision.

In the last month there have been cuts at NMIT, MIT, Whitireia, and WelTec. Cuts are also proposed at Unitec. Every time staffing is cut, students, communities, and employers suffer.

In many cases it is our most vulnerable communities and learners whose opportunities are disappearing – and with it their hopes for a better future. At MIT the courses cut affect a high number of Māori students; and this week’s announcement around MAINZ sees cuts to core STEM papers in classes with around 40% Māori and Pacifika students.

“What’s left for MAINZ learners is to do expensive private courses, which isn’t an option for most.”
Gilchrist says “We are doing our bit. The MAINZ staff were able to stop the closure of two programmes, but with ongoing instability and underfunding and the existing funding model they couldn’t save them all.”

This is where the Minister of Finance comes in. The $7bn government surplus provides room to support the well-being vision laid down at the last budget. Well-being can best be delivered by ensuring all New Zealanders have access to the transformational power of education.

TEU is proposing less than 2% of the 2019 surplus be used to ensure all New Zealanders have access to vocational education which helps them improve their lives and contribute to industry and the economy.

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