Polytech merger budget cut request ‘blatantly unfair’

Published date11 August 2022
Publication titleSouthland Express
The merger will unite 16 polytechnics across the country under one umbrella from the start of next year

However, the organisation is scrambling to minimise costs following a Tertiary Education Commission report warning a drop in enrolments means its latest annual deficit could surge to $110 million, a budget overshoot of $53.5 million.

National tertiary education spokeswoman and Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds, who was chief executive of the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) for 23 years, said Te Pukenga was asking for polytechnics to reduce their budgets by 3%.

‘‘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,’’ Ms Simmonds said.

Te Pukenga acting chief executive Peter Winder said the organisation was aiming for an overall 3% savings target.

‘‘Some will be able to achieve more, others less.

‘‘Te Pukenga is not pursuing a blanket across-the-board savings target.

‘‘We are working to find savings across the polytechs that do least harm.’’

Compared with the corresponding time last year, both SIT and Otago Polytechnic had experienced a drop in their student numbers of 7% and 11% respectively, he said.

Ms Simmonds said cost-cutting...

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