“This investment will strengthen our higher education system, improve further the quality of our universities, and help maintain their international competitiveness,” he says.
$83.3 million operating funding of the increase will be provided for lifting tuition subsidies in science provision (8.5 per cent increase), agriculture (8.5 per cent), and selected health sciences (pharmacy 16.4 per cent and physiotherapy 12.4 per cent).
“Budget 2014 continues our focus on increasing funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects,” Mr Joyce says.
“Analysis by the Ministry of Education shows that these areas were underfunded historically relative to less-expensive provision such as the humanities and commerce.
“We have previously increased our engineering investment and made two smaller increases to the cost of science provision. These latest increases will further improve the position of science-based provision and agriculture relative to other disciplines.
“Investing in science-based skills is crucial for innovation, productivity and growth in the New Zealand economy which is a key focus of our Business Growth Agenda.”
Operating funds for new initiatives over the next four years include:
- An additional $67.9 million for science (an 8.5 per cent increase per equivalent full-time student).
- An additional $8.5 million for agriculture (an 8.5 per cent increase per equivalent full-time student).
- An additional $3.8 million for pharmacy (a 16.4 per cent increase per equivalent full-time student).
- An additional $3.1 million for physiotherapy (a 12.4 per cent increase per equivalent full-time student).
- $28.6 million for ICT training initiatives (including $11.8 million of contingencies).
- An additional $53 million to increase the number of Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) to 10, including a CoRE that focuses on Māori research.
- An additional $4 million in 2013/14 and $16 million in 2014/15 to extend the Apprenticeship Reboot to 31 December 2014, creating a further 6,000 places.
- $13.2 million from Vote Health for 34 additional medical places to meet the Government’s commitment to providing 200 additional medical places.
- $500,000 in 2014/15 for Studylink to implement fees-free foundation education for those under 25, and for Māori and Pasifika Trades Training.
The boost in funding for new investment in tertiary education will come from reprioritisations within Vote Tertiary Education, and will also include additional money from the Crown.
The tertiary system is experiencing a small amount of reduced demand as people move into employment rather than taking up full-time study. In the 2013/14 financial year, not all allocated places were filled.
The suspension of inflation adjustments to the student loan repayment threshold (currently $19,084 a year or $367 weekly) will be extended a further two years until 1 April 2017. This will increase marginally the total repayments made by student borrowers, reducing both repayment times for borrowers and future lending costs for the Crown.
Funding freed-up from reduced demand and the suspension of inflation adjustments to the student loan repayment threshold, totalling operating savings of $71.6 million in 2013/14 and $72.6 million over the next four years, has been reinvested in targeted higher education funding, CoREs, and additional apprenticeship places in the Apprenticeships Reboot.
“The Budget continues the Government’s increase in tertiary education investment and a focus on the skills and research required to drive economic growth in New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.