Govt uni bailout likened to a plaster

The Government’s funding injection for the University of Otago is a start, but more support is required, Dunedin city councillors say.

The $21 million secured over two years was not the end of the story, Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said.

Cr David Benson-Pope described the money as useful and welcome, but said it did not do much to change the overall picture.

His notice of motion, seconded by Cr Carmen Houlahan, invited the council to recognise "the vital role the University of Otago plays in the wider wellbeing of Dunedin City".

The council would also offer its support in lobbying for greater government funding and direct the council’s chief executive to determine what, if any, assistance the city may be able to provide the university.

Another element was added at a council meeting yesterday — a declaration of support for an open letter from the Tertiary Education Union to the Government and Tertiary Education Commission.

Councillors agreed to all of it, even after the Government’s announcement, and they delivered a series of speeches about the value of the university to the city.

Deputy mayor Sophie Barker likened the bailout to a plaster, after the Government had not kept up with what was required.

Cr Brent Weatherall said it was frustrating the council had to lobby the Government for common sense.

Cr Houlahan described the university as a life force for the city.

Cr Steve Walker sat back from the discussion due to a conflict of interest.