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Budget Reality - Only 1.3% More To Universities

The supposed boost for tertiary education in the budget is a myth, says National's tertiary education spokesman Maurice Williamson.

"A close look at the figures shows that universities will receive just $10 million in extra EFTS funding next year. That is a pathetic 1.3% increase and less than the rate of inflation.

"The package initially sounded good, but it turns out that its spread over four years, and doesn't take into account the large rise in the number of students. That paltry $10 million won't even come close to meeting the salary demands of academic staff, who have been involved in bitter industrial disputes for the last two years.

"Despite having nine years in opposition, and two and a half years in Government, Steve Maharey is still no closer to deciding what he wants the tertiary sector to look like.

"He's taken two and a half years to produce four reports. Now he announces a five-year strategy that'll be overseen by a Commission that, in turn, will be guided by a priority "statement" that he tells us will allow assessment of strategic relevance.

"To contribute to the knowledge economy the tertiary sector must be unshackled from central control, and allowed to focus on quality, skill and development. We also need to look at discretionary funding for courses, to make sure the public gets the best return from their investment in tertiary education.

"This Government's ideological hatred of the private sector has delivered one of the most damaging elements of this budget. The capped funding to Private Training Establishments highlights Labour's belief that if you're not publicly owned you're no good," said Mr Williamson.


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