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Government doubles down on loose governance

The Government’s decision to loosen funding criteria for tertiary providers shows that their priorities are all wrong, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson David Cunliffe says.  

“The new model would allow rapid inflation of student numbers and funding without approval from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). It comes on the back of a series of rorts uncovered across the tertiary sector that went undetected for years.

“With Deloitte discovering another rort at Agribusiness Training Ltd that cost the taxpayer $6.24 million only a few weeks ago, the timing of this announcement is bizarre. This comes after repayments of $5.9m (Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi), $3.7m (WITT), and $7.5m (Taratahi) over the last 13 months. 

“The TEC identified inflated student numbers as a criterion for investigation by independent auditors. Now, Steven Joyce wants to reward providers who have inflated numbers with extra money and no approval required. 

“It has also been revealed that Steven Joyce abandoned planned investigations of another six tertiary providers in favour of an administrative review. He said that would ‘be more effective and provide better value’ than auditing the individual providers. 

“The Minister either doesn’t want to know about the rorts, or is too incompetent to recognise the reputational risk to New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. Either way, doubling down on the current model is a recipe for disaster. 

"National’s loose standards in the tertiary sector have led to the funding system being rorted for years undetected. It has cost the taxpayer tens of millions in lost money that we know about. Steven Joyce needs to wake up and act now before it’s too late,” David Cunliffe says.