Tertiary Education Union Otago branch chairman Craig West
speaks at the launch of a campaign against the shifting of
Government funding to the private sector at Otago
Polytechnic yesterday. Photo by Vaughan Elder.
Otago Polytechnic fears a change in funding that left it
more than $500,000 out of pocket is the start of a wider push
by the Government to privatise parts of the tertiary education
system, which could see further cuts in future.
Acting chief executive Sally Pairman made the comments at the
launch of a national campaign against a decision by the
Government to put $38 million out of $115 million of its
level 1 and 2 funding up for tender - resulting in money
shifting from polytechnics to the private sector.
As part of the launch, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU)
held events at polytechnics around the country.
About 25 people turned up to a meeting at Otago Polytechnic
as part of the launch, where a range of speakers brought up
their concern about the changes.
Prof Sally Pairman told those attending the Government's
decision was not about providing better quality education as
it had claimed, and instead about cutting costs and
furthering its "privatisation agenda".
Otago Polytechnic was less affected by the cuts than some
other institutions, but there was a concern the cuts were
just the start of a privatisation push in the foundation
"If that's the case then that will mean we will be in a
situation at Otago Polytechnic where we are going to have to
make some hard decisions," she said.
The tendering out of funding would also cause major problems
in the regions, in some cases forcing people to move towns to
get access to education.
TEU Otago branch chairman Craig West told those attending
that yesterday's campaign launch was only the beginning of
what would need to be a long fight against the Government's
Otago Polytechnic Students' Association president Rebecca
Hohaia said the Government's decision would result in many
"second-chance learners" missing out.
"I've seen first-hand what a second-chance learner can do,
because my dad has come back to study, and how important it
was for him," she said.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said the decision
was "purely"in the interests of raising the quality of
education for students. He also disputed the suggestion
certain regions would miss out, saying regional concerns were
part of the tendering process.