Millions in fees-free at expense of polytechs

The New Zealand National Party

The Government is closing down apprentice training organisations due to a ‘financial crisis’, but reports show there was a significant underspend in the last tertiary budget due to its failed fees-free scheme, National’s Tertiary spokesperson Shane Reti says.

“This Government’s wasteful spending on poor policies has meant it allocated money for its fees free scheme money, but because the policy failed and there wasn’t enough uptake, there was a significant underspend in the budget.

“This is because most students at university were always going to attend, and there have been 2400 fewer students enrolling in tertiary education and training than a year ago.

“This $175 million underspend would have been better spent in growing apprenticeships, supporting trades training and increasing the quality of tertiary education.

“The Government has used polytech bailouts as an excuse to amalgamate all polytechnics into one and closing down apprentice training organisations. But the money was there, it was just being spent on the wrong things.

“Apprentice training industry organisations will be rightly furious they are being closed down because of a Labour Party election promise that has failed spectacularly.

“If the Government had got its priorities right in the education sector in the first place, it wouldn’t find itself in the mess it’s in now, with ongoing teacher strikes, fewer students enrolling tertiary education, and significant opposition to Mr Hipkins’ tertiary education reforms.

“With such a big underspend the Minister needs to rethink his ill-thought out policy before Kiwis are forced to waste billions of more dollars on extending fees-free to years two and three.”

The Written Question outlining the underspend in Vote Tertiary Education

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