New Zealand’s universities risk slipping further down the international rankings if the Government doesn’t urgently address its misplaced spending priorities, National’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“For the first time in nearly two decades universities in New Zealand have received no increase in Government funding, not even to keep up with inflation, instead directing $2.8 billion into the failed policy to increase student numbers.

“This means that universities are being forced to make cuts to staffing, with the anticipation that there will be more to come. These cuts will negatively impact the ratio of staff to students and jeopardise the quality of tertiary education delivered in New Zealand.

“If our universities are unable to maintain the number of staff they have had as a result of a lack of Government funding they will continue to slide down the international rankings. This will make it harder for them to attract staff, which will cause the quality to drop even further.

“The Government needs to consider what is really important here, participation numbers or the quality of our tertiary education.

“We can be sure that if we don’t maintain the quality of our tertiary education institutions, the best and brightest students will just take their enrolments overseas.

“The Minister has put all his eggs in a misplaced basket with his badly targeted $2.8 billion fees free policy and hasn’t considered the funding needs of the tertiary education sector.

“National is committed to ensuring quality education is delivered in New Zealand and our tertiary education system is supplying the skills we need to support our growing economy.”

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