Unfair that Southern Polytechnics expected to trim millions

Polytechnics in the South are being forced to cut millions from their budgets because the Government’s mega-merger polytechnic entity Te Pūkenga is in such a mess, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson and Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) will be required to cut about $1.5 million from its budget this year, and Otago Polytechnic about $2.8 million, as Te Pūkenga management ask institutes across the country to slash costs by 3 per cent to reduce its debt.

“Forcing top performing institutes like SIT and Otago Polytechnic to cut costs to prop up the troubled mega-merger structure, including the bloated head office, is blatantly unfair.

“Te Pūkenga, which now runs the country’s institutes of technology and polytechnics, is facing a forecasted $110 million deficit this year - something the Education Minister has ordered them to rectify - but why make successful polytechnics like SIT and Otago to pay the price.

“It’s frustrating that Te Pūkenga’s head office has taken this broad-brush approach to cut costs, expecting all polytechnics to make sacrifices rather than focussing on those institutes that have not been operating efficiently.

“This effectively means well-managed polytechnics are penalised, only adding to the stress and uncertainty institutes and their staff, like SIT are already facing.

“This slash and burn approach will do nothing to improve Te Pūkenga’s long-term sustainability, nor bring about the financial efficiencies that the Government’s reforms promised.

“There are also indications that this may not be the end of the cuts imposed in institutes. Te Pūkenga’s acting chief executive Peter Winder said they were looking at how further savings could be made, including axing unviable programmes and replacing face-to-face learner engagement with more in-work learning.

“It is clear that Labour’s attempts to restructure New Zealand’s polytechnics and technical institutes are a shambles. Our local institutions, and their students, are already paying the price.”