The failure of Steven Joyce to allocate adequate funding to tertiary institutions signals the end to all aspirations for New Zealand to grow through a smart economy, says Maryan Street, Labour’s Spokesperson on Tertiary Education.
“The fact that Victoria University decided last night to turn away up to 1500 students in semesters two and three this year is an indictment on this government’s short sightedness,” said Maryan Street.
“The government can spout all it likes about ‘step changes’ in the economy. If it can’t properly fund tertiary institutions, which are the powerhouses of smart economic growth, then its words will simply ring hollow. Smart governments are investing in tertiary education and the skills base of their countries – ours is heading at full tilt in the opposite direction.
“Other universities are in the process of making similar cuts, with the disestablishment of the Design Studies Department at Otago University being another casualty this week,” she said.
“This is madness. The government needs to front up and explain how this can possibly be good for New Zealanders and for New Zealand’s future. The short answer is that they can’t because it’s not. Giving people more opportunities to upskill, rather than fewer, is what is required in a recession.
“Australia has just announced in their budget $2.6 billion to universities over 5 years through a new, more generous indexation rate to help them meet the cost of quality teaching and research. And they are enshrining it in law to ensure funding certainty.
“What is Steven Joyce doing here? He is telling everyone in tertiary education how tight times are even though he can put $10 billion or more over the next few years into roads.
“As a result, New Zealanders are being turned away from our universities in the hundreds now. Mr Joyce and the government have their priorities all wrong,” said Maryan Street.
“So much for their campaign slogan of a brighter future. New Zealand’s future looks bleak under these policies,“ she said.