New Zealand’s Vice-Chancellors acknowledge the 1.8% increase in the Student Achievement Component of university funding, as announced in yesterday’s Budget.

“Any funding increase at this time is a move in the right direction,” says Universities New Zealand Chair Derek McCormack. “And Government needs to work with universities to ensure sustainable baseline funding for future years.

McCormack says universities should be part of the holistic solution to many of the concerns outlined by the Government in Budget 2019. But they need to be resourced to help deliver that solution.

“Universities are under huge pressure to maintain quality and New Zealand needs a high-quality university system to help the Government deliver on its own aims of own aims of helping businesses transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy, ensuring access to and development of the digital technology, and lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities. These will require more skills from a sector that is now poorly funded in international terms.”

“Investment in universities and the education they provide would mean that the universities can deliver the skills needed for teacher education, working with children and for new frontline staff in mental health. We can also make improvements in teaching quality and research, benefiting students, whānau and the wider community.”

The Tertiary Education Union echoes that the Government’s aspirations of improving the lives of New Zealanders are reliant on a strong tertiary education sector.

“We applaud investment in mental health, more teachers, housing first, transitions for youth in state care, and major spend on sexual and family violence programmes” says TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs.

“But the lack of significant new investment in tertiary education could harm the government’s long-term aspirations. To improve well-being you need more teachers, Pasifika nurses, social workers, builders, addiction counsellors – yet parts of our tertiary education system are crumbling away.”

Riggs says given the Government’s repeated acknowledgement of the overall funding crisis in tertiary education, they are disappointed that there is no attempt to substantially invest in the well-being of students, communities, and environment by putting new money into tertiary education.

“The government is staying very safely inside the current fiscal responsibility targets. It has money in the bank for a rainy day. For many students and staff in the tertiary education sector the rain is pouring through the rooves of their institutions because of chronic long-term underfunding.”

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