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The Education (Update) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on February 8.
The Bill proposes a wide scope of changes — increasing the potential for funding, strengthening the monitoring and compliance of independent tertiary institutes, formalising expected behaviour with said institutes, and enhancing student protection facilities.
In addition, it seeks to extend the Export Education Levy, penalise anyone who falsely awards credits for a qualification, and allows the pooling of assets to create a larger fund within the existing Education Act.
This would allow the current Education Minister to shift funding across the education sector as they saw fit.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has expressed concern that this will lead to a shifting of funding in response to market demand, rather than need.
They have also criticised the move to treat for-profit, independent tertiary education providers equally with universities, wānanga, and institutes of technology and polytechnics.
Sandra Grey, the TEU national president, stated that “these changes will undermine our public education system, paving the way for the transfer of large sums of money away from the public tertiary education sector into the pockets of private companies.”
The Bill is currently in its first reading in Parliament.