23 May 2014
“While tinkering with the tuition subsidy on some courses is a welcome admission, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has created a funding system which is producing the wrong outcomes - he needs to face the fact that high fees are a significant deterrent,” said New Zealand Union of Students' Association (NZUSA) President Daniel Haines.
“Joyce announced an increased subsidy for science, agriculture and health science courses with the intention to make them more attractive for students. This follows an increase in the subsidy for engineering last year. Yet the real barrier to accessing these courses are high fees and restricted entry. If the subsidy does not address fees then it will make little difference to student choices," said Haines.
“Further, while these are his pet subjects there is much work still to be done. languages for example, are widely agreed to be around 20% under-funded compared with most countries and an increase in funding of 50% would be required to bring them to the same level of relative funding as in Australia.
“As we saw with Engineering last year, increasing the course-cost funding makes no difference to the numbers of students wanting to study in these areas because they still cost too much. Institutions did not use funding increases to make Engineering courses more attractive through lowering fees. They are permitted to put fees up by 4% and that’s what they did – across the board.
“If the Minister wants more Engineers, Agriculturalists, Scientists, and Pharmacists then we need to make the qualifications that give access to those professions affordable. This is one set of funding that should come with strings attached,” said Haines.