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The leaked Cabinet paper on polytechnic reforms shows opportunities for young learners will be reduced, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The paper states there is ‘a real prospect that before and during the transition period, participation in vocational education could decrease, especially in shorter and lower-level work based programs’.

“Lower-level work based programs are generally for new and younger learners. These students will be unfairly disadvantaged by these reforms.

“We need to be supporting and encouraging young learners not putting hurdles in the road for the sake of an ideological experiment

“Polytechnics will also suffer financially under the reforms with the document showing training volumes could fall and that this ‘could affect the viability of some providers’ polytechnics.

“This is a real kick in the teeth for polytechnics who are already struggling with falling international students, uncertainty, job losses and now a reform process that is predicting less learners and polytechnics going further into the red.

“The sector needs a commitment from Education Minister Chris Hipkins that he will financially support institutions that go into the red and end up doing worse under these reforms than they were previously.

“His silence on this issue is concerning, it looks as though this is another ‘spray and walk away’ policy typical of the Government, where once the damage is done the Minister will walk away and leave the sector to pick up the pieces.”

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