Today’s announcement that the financial viability of Whitireia and WelTec are considered at risk is due to the Government’s reckless election promise to arbitrarily slash immigration while paying the tertiary fees of wealthy students, National’s Associate Tertiary spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“The Government’s campaign on slashing immigration and international student numbers has sent a shock through our tertiary education sector.

“National warned it would have a chilling effect on our $4.4 billion international student market and today’s announcements has proven that demonstrably true.

“It is disturbing to hear that the viability of institutions like Whitireia and WelTec are considered at risk which could affect hundreds of jobs and thousands of students.

“Proposals to clamp down on post-study work rights for international students were heard in overseas markets, dampening interest in New Zealand and spooking the sector, with the likes of Manukau Institute of Technology also warning of major financial impacts.

“This is all down to the Government’s priorities. Budget 2018 was the first in a decade not to increase funding for the sector as the Government chose to spend $2.8 billion on free fees instead.

“Now we see the immediate impact of that decision, compounded by its reckless and cynical approach to immigration policy.

“The Government needs to put its reforms on ice and deal with the reality of a tertiary sector which relies on exporting education to the international market.

“Instead, it’s doubling down, dissolving councils, progressing changes to in-study work rights for international students, and committing to extending the fees free scheme to the second and third year of study.

“These changes are putting hundreds of jobs in the tertiary education sector at risk, and come on top of the Government’s other anti-growth policies which are making businesses less confident to invest, to lift wages and hire new workers.”

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