The future of New Zealand polytechnics are at risk and
the sector is ''undervalued'' by the National Government, Otago
Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker says.
His comments come after Labour's tertiary education
spokeswoman Maryan Street this week said Mr Joyce should
''hang his head in shame'' because of the dismal performance
of New Zealand polytechnics.
Otago Polytechnic had in recent years largely bucked a wider
trend in the sector by boosting student numbers and running
healthy surpluses, but Mr Ker said the funding environment
would make this more difficult in future years.
''Every year it gets harder to both deliver a high quality of
education and make the investments in technology and
facilities to stay ahead.
''The sector is underfunded, and I think undervalued, as a
whole,'' Mr Ker said.
Tertiary Education Commission data showed it was one of only
two polytechnics to receive an increase in Government funding
over the past four years - albeit at a rate below inflation.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce yesterday
congratulated the polytechnic for its performance.
''I think they have got a good operation there; they know
what their region needs [and] they are quite entrepreneurial
in their approach,'' he said.
The polytechnic had also performed well when it came to
attracting international students.
His statements backed up a letter he sent to Otago
Polytechnic's council after receiving its 2013 annual report.
He disputed Ms Street's suggestion the Government was
The total surplus across the institutes of technology and
polytechnic (ITP) sector was $31 million, which was 2.9% of
turnover, he said.
While this was a decline on the previous year, this was to be
expected due to declining student numbers, as more people
returned to work following the recession.
Government funding was based on ''learner demand'' and if
there was a decline in student numbers, there would be a
decline in funding.
Ms Street earlier said the Government's funding model for
polytechnics was ''unsustainable''.
''Our tertiary institutions are being asked to do more and
more with less and less,'' she said.
Mr Ker said Ms Street had a ''valid point''.
''You can't pursue a sinking lid policy indefinitely and
expect the same or better services.
''There has to come a point when polytechnics will be unable
to continue to deliver the services the country requires.''
There had been no adjustments for inflation in several years,
meaning each year it was ''expected to do more for less''.
It had bucked wider sector trends due to an increasing
reputation as providing quality education and due to
innovative focus - which included launching a bachelor of
culinary arts degree and setting up Capable NZ, which was
about assessing skills people gained in the workplace.
However, maintaining growth and planning for the future would
be difficult as long as funding remained tight.