$380 million = $190,000 each
Earlier this week, the Government announced the details of its plan to make the first year of tertiary study free fully taxpayer funded. For the princely sum of $380 million, an extra 2,000 students are expected to pursue tertiary study from next year – that’s $190,000 each.
Giving every student free education in order to encourage a small number to pursue university or a trade offers anything but value for money. If the Government is concerned about some young people not receiving an education, they should target their policies, not give in to universalism.
As covered in our report published prior to the election, 'Robin Hood Reversed', this policy represents a huge wealth transfer from middle-income earners to tomorrow's rich.
The Government's policy gives every future doctor, lawyer and accountant a free ride — at the expense of the average taxpayer. We say it would be much cheaper to give scholarships for those who need them, and spend the money improving the quality of courses (or boosting the funding of schools or education providers).
The officials agree with us
Yesterday, the post-election "Briefings to Incoming Ministers" (BIMs) were released. Our team has been busy working through them and were interested to see the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) BIM fire darts at Labour's policy.
TEC points to poor decision-making from prospective students as a major problem already. It advises the new Minister that students already change their course, drop out, or act impulsively too much. How much worse will that be once students have no financial stake?
In addition, TEC explain that an increasing focus in recent years has been on 'investing in outcomes' rather than simply measuring success by the number of participants in tertiary education, or the number of degrees awarded. Nevertheless, the Government has ploughed ahead with a "free fees" policy specifically designed to do the opposite: get more bums on seats.
The Value(s) of Auckland DHB
Earlier this week we blew the whistle on the Auckland DHB spending $171,000 updating its ‘values’. That involved holding a ‘values week’ which entailed 17 workshops and 750 hours of staff time. A London business consultant was even flown in – twice – to provide expertise.
The ADHB’s former values of ‘Integrity, Respect, Innovation, Effectiveness’ were replaced with ‘Welcome – haere mai, Respect – manaaki, Together – tūhono and Aim High – angamua.'
Put another way, the DHB spent $170,000 to replace the value of ‘effectiveness’ with merely ‘aiming high’!
The Taxpayers’ Union was happy to offer the ADHB some alternative values, except our suggestions were free of charge. We thought ‘Sticking to our knitting’, or ‘Not flying in a London consultant to legitimise our waffle-fest when sick people are literally relying on DHB resources for survival’, were both good options. You can read our comments to the media here, and coverage on Stuff here.
175,000 more questions for Wintec
The CEO of Wintec, Mark Flowers, appears to be scared of the media. He's reportedly spent an incredible $175,000 of public money hiring lawyers to protect him from the local Waikato Times questioning him about an investigation relating to serious allegations. The allegations are yet to be made public, but if they are as untrue as he claims, why spend $175,000 of our money on lawyers and literally hide in his car in the polytechnic's carpark to prevent having to answer questions?
Our research team are digging deep into this story — as well as similar issues at other polytechnics — so watch this space.