With fees-free post-secondary education already on the table ahead of Budget 2018, tertiary education institutions and industry had hoped the Budget would deliver funding focused on raising the quality of post-secondary education.

However, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Chair of Universities New Zealand and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, was left disappointed.

“Over the past 20 years, successive governments have chosen to focus on lowering the cost of university education to students, rather than raising the quality,” says McCutcheon.

“This Government has accelerated that trend, throwing $600 million of taxpayers’ money at its fees-free policy while not even providing in the Budget for tertiary funding to keep up with inflation.”

Tertiary Education Union president Sandra Grey believed the fees-free policy was overshadowing other opportunities within tertiary education.

“Labour is at risk of going into the next election having fulfilled its commitment to provide one year of free tertiary education, which we welcome, but little else that will ensure these students actually have places to study in their local communities,” said Grey.

New Zealand Union of Student Associations president Jonathan Gee said that while students welcomed the fees-free policy, funding needed to extend to tertiary education itself.

“In the face of course cuts, staff cuts and cuts to the humanities, the tertiary education sector is in need of a long-overdue funding boost. Better still, we need to change the funding model to ensure tertiary institutions are well-equipped to deliver a tertiary education that is good for students and good for New Zealand.”

Meanwhile, the Industry Training Federation (ITF) was disappointed to see no new investment in on-the-job training and apprenticeships in Budget 2018.
“We get that this is just one Budget, and that the Minister is progressing a series of reviews, including of vocational education,” says ITF chief executive Josh Williams.

“However, Labour’s Future of Work Commission recognised the need to upgrade the skills of the workforce through life-long education and training, delivered through the workplace.  This is an international wave, and critical in the face of technological change.”

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