The Government must explain to New Zealand taxpayers why it is considering scrapping measures that ensure overseas student loan defaulters don’t get away scot free, National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“Taxpayers help to fund tertiary study and thousands of Kiwis have been and are working hard to pay back their student loans. Just because someone leaves the country, it doesn’t mean they should be able to leave their debt behind.
“Unfortunately it appears the Government will be removing the tough measures introduced in 2010 by the National-led Government to hold student loan defaulters to account.
“This comes after the Government announced it will ditch benefit sanctions for women who don’t name the fathers of their children, allowing the men to get out of their child support obligations.
“If the Government doesn’t send a clear signal that it’s serious about student loan debt being repaid, it will reverse the hard fought gains we’ve recently made – the measures introduced by the previous Government prompted an additional $419 million in repayments between 2010 and June 2017.
“The Government should be on the side of hardworking people who do the right thing. Not on the side of student loan defaulters.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed that he doesn’t even know some basic facts about his Government’s flagship tertiary policy, after being embarrassingly corrected by his officials in Select Committee today, National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“When asked to confirm that a CE of a company could go off to do their MBA and have the first year paid for by taxpayers, Mr Hipkins said that they would not be eligible under the fees-free policy.
“A few minutes later he was passed a note by officials saying he’d got it wrong and confirmed that the fees-free policy actually does apply to post-graduate study like MBAs.
“It’s hard to know what’s worse – that the Government’s $2.8 billion tertiary policy is so grossly untargeted that taxpayers will be funding wealthy and successful people to get their MBA, or that the Minister in charge of the policy isn’t even across the basic detail.
“Mr Hipkins deliberately inserted himself into the Select Committee briefing which was initially intended to involve officials only – you’d think he would have done his homework.”
Labour must explain why it believes taxpayers should be paying more for people to study golf, homeopathy and skydiving, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The Government was reluctant to provide any detail on its multi-billion fees-free policy and now we know why – today’s announcement has confirmed a return to the bad old Labour days of funding international hip hop study tours and family reunions.
“Under the criteria outlined today, fees-free study options will include a Diploma in Tournament Golf from IGQ Golf College, a Diploma in Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine from the New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine and a Diploma in Commercial Skydiving.
“While it makes sense that golf students ‘have an in-depth understanding of golf theory’ is it really a high priority for new spending?
“This is just bad policy. This is on top of the Government’s own estimates showing hardly any more students will be enrolling because of this policy, when Labour has justified this spending by saying it wants greater participation in tertiary education.
“Most of the 80,000 students that will benefit would have enrolled anyway and were prepared to make some contribution to the cost of their study because they saw the lifetime value in it.
“New Zealand’s tertiary education system is already heavily subsidised and the average student loan is paid off in less than seven years. This policy will just give even more money to people who will earn high incomes and should contribute something to the cost of their education.
“The policy represents a colossal missed opportunity and grossly untargeted spending. Surely it would be better to invest public money into targeting the very small group for whom cost is a barrier?
“And with all the money being sucked into supporting every full-time student in their first year, it leaves nothing to invest in the tertiary institutions themselves so that they can deliver world-class education that equips the next generation of Kiwis to be internationally competitive.
“The tertiary education sector has been left in the dark for months and it’s only now getting the details of this major policy. It gives the sector less than a month to prepare for the changes – and all for a policy that acts as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Labour must explain how it will ensure that people are enrolled in tertiary study for genuine reasons next year and not to exploit the increase in student allowances, National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The $50 a week increase in allowances will no doubt be welcomed by students, but it’s likely also to be welcomed by those who realise they’ll pocket more money each week if they enrol in tertiary study than if they stayed on their benefit,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Student allowances have previously been pegged to the jobseeker benefit so there wouldn’t be any perverse incentives for people to enrol in tertiary study even if they had no intention of studying.
“But now that’s all changed, and the zero-fees policy will make it worse.
“For example, the student allowance entitlement for single people 24 years and over without children is $212.45 per week; which matches the jobseeker support entitlement for single people 25 years and over without children.
“By increasing student allowances by $50 a week, a person in this scenario will soon receive $262.45 – 23.5 per cent more than if they remained on the jobseeker benefit.
“While all Kiwis would like to see unemployed New Zealanders engaging in genuine study, decoupling student allowances from benefit levels opens the system to abuse.
“With all tertiary courses free from next year, what’s to stop any sensible beneficiary taking advantage and enrolling in study in order to pocket an extra $50 a week?
“It’s like having a new super jobseeker benefit with no strings attached.
“Labour needs to explain to New Zealanders how they will ensure public money will not be squandered on courses for people who have no intention of completing their course. While they’re at it, they should front up with the full details of their tertiary policy.”
National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith is welcoming the Government’s apparent U-turn on their policy to gut the international education industry by massively reducing the number of foreign students coming into New Zealand.
“During the election campaign, Labour’s policy was clear – in order to reduce immigration they would reduce the number of international students by between 15,000 and 22,000 a year which represents about a quarter of incoming students,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“But Education Minister Chris Hipkins has been giving private assurances to the sector that they shouldn’t worry, he has no intention of carrying out that commitment anytime soon.
“And he is also reported today saying he is ‘not rushing to make changes’.
“The international education industry is worth $4.5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy. Labour’s proposed changes would have had a massive impact on the industry.
“This change of heart is welcome news but the Minister needs to state this publicly instead of hinting at it to worried industry players.
“He then needs to explain why his party cynically stoked anti-immigrant sentiment during the campaign with promises it never intended to keep.”
Labour is leaving students and the tertiary education sector in turmoil because of its inability to outline the true impacts of its “free” tertiary education policy, Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The policy is just weeks away from taking effect and so far, all Labour has been able to confirm is that labourers and checkout counter operators will now be paying more for lawyers and accountants to go to university – including, it turns out, those from Australia,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Have we got so much money in this country that the top priority for education spending is to make it free for Australians to study in New Zealand?
“Students, providers, and the wider sector need to know how this policy will actually work. The lack of detail is creating a mess for students, Studylink, and tertiary institutions as the next academic year rapidly approaches.
“Mr Hipkins has also said the policy could increase student numbers by 15 per cent – meaning around 46,000 extra students a year - yet the tertiary institutions have no time to prepare to cater to them.
“This policy will lead to overcrowded labs, classrooms and lecture theatres and a big squeeze on student accommodation – especially now Australians have learned they can also study for free.
“Other questions that need to be answered include what controls will be in place on high-cost courses? Because, as we know, the study won’t be “free” – it will be paid for by the taxpayer. Will the courses be free even if a student fails to finish the course?
“Over the last nine years, the tertiary education sector in New Zealand has gone from strength to strength, creating thousands of jobs and providing world-class education to New Zealanders and international students.
“It is starting to look like rushed, rash policy changes are Hipkins’ modus operandi. He needs to start working with the sector and postpone the introduction of this policy by a year so that they can make sense of it and prepare before it is brought in.
“Labour’s tertiary policy is expensive and unfair, and its implementation is already looking like a real mess.”
“The report highlights the increasingly important contribution that innovative hi-tech companies make to New Zealand, with the collective export revenues of the 200 largest tech companies now earning more than $7.3 billion in export revenues,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government has backed the ICT sector to succeed and we are now seeing the results in the fantastic growth of the sector.”
The record-breaking figure has been revealed in the annual Technology Investment Network’s TIN100 Report, released today.
The TIN Report is an analysis of the performance of the top 200 New Zealand-founded hi-tech exporters by revenue in the areas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Hi-Tech Manufacturing and Biotechnology.
Top performers include Datacom Group, Fisher & Paykel Appliances and Healthcare, Xero, and Gallagher Group. Highlights in this year’s report include:The TIN200 tech companies produce the equivalent of 10% of all New Zealand exports; They have created 4,352 new jobs globally to employ over 43,000 staff in total; TIN200 growth has been concentrated outside of Auckland - Hamilton, Wellington and the South Island regions are leading TIN200 growth; Fintech, digital media and agritech are the fastest growing market sectors.
“It is particularly pleasing to see in this year’s report a 7.9 per cent increase in research and development investment, to $882m in total. Additional investment in R&D is a real investment in the future of any company, and helps boost the overall R&D investment levels of New Zealand companies,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“In addition, five Callaghan Innovation customer companies are included in the top 200 list, and generated nearly $94 million of revenue this year. All of those companies are investing in their own future, enabled by the support of Callaghan Innovation.”
“New Zealand’s technology companies are building a strong business-led R&D ecosystem, that is strengthening and diversifying New Zealand’s economy,” Mr Goldsmith says.
This year’s report also profiles several Māori-owned or Māori investment-backed technology companies that are making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s technology sector.
“Estimated to be worth $50 billion, the Māori economy is a significant and important contributor to New Zealand’s economy, and is playing an ever-increasing role in our economy,” Mr Bridges says.
“Our tech companies are leading the way and showing how far New Zealand can go when we invest in world-leading innovation.”
Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland will be the first to take advantage of the Government’s $35 million investment in ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’, part of the Innovative New Zealand initiative in Budget 2016, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Paul Goldsmith announced today.
“The Entrepreneurial Universities fund aims to attract world-leading entrepreneurial academics to New Zealand, setting up their laboratories and teams in our universities,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Approximately $4 million will be awarded annually over 4 years in the first funding round to one Victoria University of Wellington programme and two University of Auckland programmes.
“Victoria University of Wellington will establish a new institute in 2018 - the Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC) led by Professor Ken Anjyo - with the aim of building a globally competitive research and entrepreneurship programme in Wellington,” Mr Goldsmith says.
The CMIC will incubate potential start-ups and industry pipelines to strengthen New Zealand’s computing and media ecosystem, placing it at the forefront of an emerging global digital media market that includes Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR).
“The University of Auckland also has a programme ready to start in early 2018, which will be led by one of the world’s emerging leaders in creating enabling human-computer interfaces, Dr Suranga Nanayakkara,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Dr Nanayakkara will join the University of Auckland’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute to continue his innovative research in human-computer interaction.
“Dr Nanayakkara’s work includes the development of wearable and sensory devices that can enable the vision- or hearing-impaired to perceive and make sense of their environment. His work in developing and commercialising assistive and rehabilitative technologies will further strengthen and grow New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem,” Mr Goldsmith says.
The University of Auckland is finalising details of its second programme and this is expected to be completed shortly.
“New Zealand is already an attractive place to undertake research and our universities all have an international reputation for excellence, but it’s an extremely competitive environment and this fund allows our universities to compete on a global scale,” Mr Goldsmith says
“The benefits of the knowledge and networks world-leading academics will bring here are substantial, from undergraduates learning from the best, to New Zealand firms gaining partnership opportunities with leaders in their fields.”
Two other applications for funding from the first round are still under development, while a second funding round will be launched in November.
Over the next three years, the initiative is expected to bring 15-20 world-leading researchers and their teams to New Zealand. The Entrepreneurial Universities initiative is part of the Government’s initial Innovative New Zealand package in Budget 2016, worth a total of $761.4 million.
Callaghan Innovation has approved the 2017/18 round of Student Experience Grants, with 139 businesses to offer 358 students paid work over the summer break, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.
“This year saw a record number of businesses applying, with 179 businesses applying for 418 internships. This is a great sign that the scheme is valued by businesses and popular with students,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Since Callaghan Innovation was created in 2013, 274 different companies have been approved for an Experience Grant. As a result, over 800 students have undertaken an R&D Experience placement.”
The R&D Experience Grant is administered by Callaghan Innovation and supports undergraduate students studying science, technology, business, engineering or design to gain valuable work experience during the summer student break. The grant provides funding of $18 an hour for up to 400 hours of work.
The grants develop the technical skills of students in a professional, commercial R&D environment, while also providing businesses with expertise to further their work, which is the central aim of the programme.
Successful companies for 2017/18 include Tiro Medical, where students will be involved in the design and prototyping of 3D imaging health software, and InventoryTech Limited, where students will develop improved sensors to detect real-time consumption of first-aid kit items.
“The grant programme develops students into more work-ready, technically skilled graduates who can be easily absorbed into the fast-paced R&D and technology focused industries that are critical to New Zealand’s long-term economic success,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Companies benefit as they can take on more students as the cost and risk of bringing them into the business is reduced. And the students benefit from easier access to the technical experience they need for future employment opportunities, while at the same time giving them a visible career path in R&D that they can continue to work towards.”
The programme is available to businesses of any size that have a focus on research and development. The second and final tranche of approved businesses will be announced later this month. More information is available HERE.
Funding has been awarded for 68 new science research projects that will benefit New Zealand environmentally, economically, and socially, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.
The funding, totalling $248 million over the next five years, has been invested through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) 2017 Endeavour Fund, which received an $81.9 million funding boost over four years in Budget 2017.
“The Endeavour Fund is an important tool in the Government’s ten-year vision for a highly dynamic New Zealand science system,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“The Fund looks for transformative initiatives that propose excellent research and have strong potential to improve a range of outcomes for New Zealand, such as marine ecosystems and hybrid energy.
“This year the quality of applications was exceptional, and a diverse range of applications were received which will address some really important issues facing New Zealand.”
As part of the 2017 Endeavour Fund round, up to $15 million per year in total will be invested in 41 projects under the ‘Smart Ideas’ initiative over the next three years. Smart Ideas are innovative research projects that have a high potential to benefit New Zealand.
Up to $43 million per year in total will be invested in 27 Research Programmes over the next five years. Research Programmes support ambitious, well-defined research ideas, which have high potential to positively transform areas of future value, growth or critical need to New Zealand.
Some examples of the successful 2017 Endeavour Fund proposals include:Developing hybrid-electric aircraft (Victoria University of Wellington); Recovering the trajectories of the marine ecosystem from the Kaikōura earthquakes (University of Canterbury); Improving NZ Pinot noir production (New Zealand Winegrowers); Exploring new technologies to improve weather forecasting (MetOcean Solutions Limited); Developing new charging technology for electric vehicles while parked or moving (University of Auckland).
“I want to congratulate all of the successful applicants and I look forward to seeing the new ideas and discoveries made possible by this investment,” Mr Goldsmith says.
The successful proposals were selected by the Science Board on 30 August, an independent statutory Board, following a review by independent experts. The new research contracts will begin on 1 October 2017.
More information on the successful proposals can be found HERE.