Tertiary Education Minster Steven Joyce has rejected a
call for the Government to stump up with extra cash to fund the
University of Otago's $650 million building programme.
The call by the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) for extra
funds came as Mr Joyce announced last Thursday the Government
would provide up to $107.5 million in capital funding for the
rebuilding of Lincoln University's science facilities. Mr
Joyce said TEU's appeal was ''unrealistic and unnecessary''.
''Unfortunately, my dear friends at the TEU say we should
keep throwing money at everything every time.''
Otago University was a successful institution, had a ''strong
balance sheet'' and was able to fund the building programme
on its own.
The extra funding provided to Christchurch institutions,
including Lincoln, was the exception, as they had been ''hit
twice'' by the earthquake, which damaged their assets and hit
Mr Joyce said the Government had declined Otago's request for
extra funding for renovating and extending its school of
dentistry, but had not been asked for extra funding for other
TEU Otago University organiser Shaun Scott earlier called on
the Government to provide extra funding for its capital works
programme and, in particular, its dental school project.
''It's the only dental school in the country and it's really
crucial that we are able to train and educate dentists for
the future dental health of the country,'' Mr Scott said.
The university did not respond to questions on the issue, but
in 2012 vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the
university had accepted it would need to fund the dental
school programme itself after the Government had turned down
repeated requests for help over the previous decade.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who is on the university's council,
said it was important the city's tertiary institutions were
given enough overall Government funding to invest in their
''If the Government expects tertiary institutions to invest
in more infrastructure, then they have got to fund them in a
way that allows them to build up the funding to do that,'' Mr
Mr Scott said the union was not concerned the university
would have to cut staff numbers or conditions so it could pay
for its building programme.
The university had ''built in a long enough time frame'' to
be able to afford to invest in both staff and buildings.
It would ''quickly'' become concerned if it became apparent
staff would be affected.
''There is no point in having great facilities if there is no
staff to work in them, either because they have been made
redundant or you can't recruit them because of compromised
ability to pay well.''