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Government slams door shut on polytech students

24 June 2009
Media Statement

Government slams door shut on polytech students

Thousands of aspiring polytechnic students are set to be turned away after the Government confirmed the polytechs were likely to face financial penalties if they enrol them, says Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Maryan Street.

“This is another short-sighted decision by the Government which clearly prefers to see people stuck on the dole, rather than engaged in study and training required ensure we emerge from the recession with a work-ready and productive workforce.

“The Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand (ITPNZ) today said about 6000 aspiring students could be turned away from polytechnics as a result of the Government’s refusal to waive financial penalties if they exceeded enrolment caps,” Maryan Street says.

“The recession and rising unemployment has resulted in bigger than expected increases in enrolments this year, which the ITPNZ expects to total five to 10 per cent.

“But Education Minister Anne Tolley confirmed today that the Government would not step in to remove the barriers and allow the polytechnics to accept extra students, which will see many turned away. Polytechnics are making decisions now about enrolments for the second half of the year.

“Anne Tolley said polytechnics would have to reassess the type of courses being offered to ensure they provided for those most likely to be hit by the recession, such as youth, Maori and Pacific Peoples. But the reality is these are the very people applying for courses now and who are likely to be turned away,” Maryan Street says.

“And she won’t say which courses need to be axed or scaled back. The ITPNZ says enrolment pressures are being experienced for courses such as nursing, engineering and IT – which are an investment in a productive economy.

“A third of all people now on the unemployment benefit now are under 24 and this figure is projected to rise steeply. The last thing we need is a generation of youth stuck on the dole when they could be in training instead.

“This move comes on top of significant funding cuts to Adult and Community Education courses, and raises serious questions about how many people are being consigned to the scrapheap by this Government.”

ENDS

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