The Government’s vocational education reform is looking like the next fees-free flop as recently released official papers show the one mega polytechnic will grab cash from polytechnics, National’s Spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.

“Under the reforms cash reserves will be held by the one mega polytechnic who will then decide how the cash is spent in the regions.

“New Zealand First are saying the money will be spent regionally, which is true, but what the money is spent on will be determined by the mega polytechnic and there are no regulations or parameters around this discretion. Their money can even be used to pay for the cost of the reforms they predominantly oppose.

“The reforms are estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars in establishment costs alone, all which can be siphoned from polytechnics as part of the merger. In the latest annual reports cash held by polytechnics include ARA $12 million, Toi Ohomai $6.5 million, SIT $4.4 million and Northtec $3.6 million. Across the whole sector there is nearly $60 million available as part of the cash grab.  

“Polytechnics are too scared to speak out as there are clauses stating that during the 2 to 3 year establishment phase, it is actually the Minister who will have final sign off on their cash grab reserves.

“I am urging the Minister to act now as he can still make changes that guarantee regional polytechnics control over what their cash is spent on and a guarantee that it cannot be spent to pay for the cost of these reforms which officials say are unlikely to achieve the desired outcomes.

“If elected, National will return polytechnic assets taken by this Government and give them back to communities.

“We support apprentices and regional polytechnics and we will fight for their voice and autonomy in these devastating education reforms.”

A table of the polytechnic cash assets at risk can be found here.

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