Tertiary jobs go amid funding shake-up

Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012

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Regional polytechnics are cutting courses and jobs after the Government moved millions of dollars of funding into the private sector.

Eastern Institute of Technology will lose at least 12 staff and funding for 320 entry-level students at its Napier and Tairawhiti campuses because it missed out on more than $2 million in government funding. Cuts are expected in the automotive and business schools.

Last month, UCOL said between 30 and 50 jobs and 23 courses would go from its Palmerston North and Whanganui campuses because the Tertiary Education Commission took $2.6m from its budget next year.

The cuts come after the Government decided to put one-third of its level 1 and 2 student achievement funding up for tender - $38m out of $115m.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce allocated funding to 17 private training establishments, one wananga and six institutes of technology and polytechnics. It was the first time private training establishments were able to apply for the money.

Mr Joyce said the funding had been opened up to private providers because many of the polytechnics had not been performing, with a completion rate of just 50 per cent.

Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey said two-thirds of polytechnics had missed out on funding and she believed the cuts announced were just the tip of the iceberg.

Cuts could be on the cards for Wellington Institute of Technology, which also missed out on funding. The chief executive could not be reached for comment.

Whitireia should be exempt from cuts as it secured funding, Dr Grey said. Although the money was just one source of funding available to institutes, she said it was having a significant impact on campuses around the country.

EIT also warned staff further cuts were likely in the new year, and they could be significantly deeper.

Chief executive Chris Collins said it was a "huge shock" that EIT missed out on funding.

Mr Joyce believed the redundancies were "a little premature" because funding for the next year had not been finalised.

"One or two have chosen to focus on the bits they're losing and not the bits they're adding," he said.

He denied it was a move to privatise tertiary education."

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- Fairfax Media

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