National’s cuts hurting Otago Polytech
Grant Robertson | Monday, February 18, 2013 - 09:31
At a time when people are crying out for opportunities and skills, the National Government’s decision to cut more than $2-million from the budget of Otago Polytech is crazy, says Grant Robertson, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson.
In 2011 Otago Polytechnic had its government funding reduced by $3.3-million - a 7% drop from the previous year. 20 staff lost their jobs as a direct result of the funding cuts. Otago Polytech lost further funding as a result of cuts to foundation learning programmes last year.
Across the country more than $50-million was stripped from funding for regional polytechs in 2011. Last year another $30 million was cut away when foundation courses were handed over to the private sector.
Grant Robertson is in Dunedin today, as part of Labour’s ‘Save Our Polytechs’ campaign. He will meet with students and staff at the polytech, as well as Mayor Dave Cull, the Otago Chamber of Commerce and local unions.
“Otago Polytech is one of the country’s top tertiary education providers. In 2011 it had the second highest course completion rate out of all polytechs, at 83%. It does a great job giving young people, and those who want to retrain, the opportunity to get the skills they need to get ahead.
“And there is a real need for those opportunities. Just three weeks ago more than a hundred workers lost their jobs in Oamaru when Summit Wool Spinners closed its doors, and in November 90 workers at the Hillside rail workshops were made redundant. Across Otago 5,200 people are unemployed, and last year 1,674 people left the province permanently for Australia.
“National’s cuts are hurting Otago Polytech, but they are also hurting the region’s economy. Kiwis need opportunities, and our economy needs a skilled workforce. That’s why Labour is committed to strengthening our polytechs,” says Grant Robertson.