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Labour’s tertiary education reforms will be wider than first thought and will strip the Southern Institute of Technology of power and assets, MP for Invercargill Sarah Dowie says.

“National has obtained a Cabinet paper which outlines this information, the Government will take this paper to Cabinet on Monday.

“The Government is intending on renaming regional polytechnics as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). A National Government will undo some of the most damaging ideological changes proposed. 

“The Government’s ‘we know best’ attitude will see Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) and polytechs dissolved over two years. The organising of apprentices will be taken from industry, who know the needs of our region best, and instead given to one polytech.

“They will have their cash assets and community legacy assets ring fenced at head office, all other assets will be taken away and consolidated. Current boards will be sacked on day one, including local members and will be replaced by a subsidiary board, and regional leadership groups will be advisory only.           

“This is disastrous for Southland and for our well performing Southern Institute of Technology (SIT). SIT is in touch with local business needs in the community and are training the skilled and semi-skilled as apprentices, helping them grow, succeed and gain meaningful employment.

“Southland institutions and businesses are best placed to assess and deliver for the needs of Southlanders. They don’t need to be told what to do by a Government that thinks it knows best, intent on removing this knowledge from our region.

“The Labour-led Government has said it is committed to the regions. But they are destroying a polytechnic which is integral to our community. These reforms are punishing our regions and are punishing well performing institutions like SIT. Wellington shouldn’t be telling Southland what to do.

“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to the community. We will return polytechnic decision making to communities and the regions. We will return apprentices to industry. Education Minister Chris Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions like SIT alone.

“We will fight these reforms every step of the way, we know how important SIT is to Southland and Southlanders, and we know our region knows what is best for our community’s needs. National will overturn some of the Government’s most damaging ideological polytech reforms.”

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