Southland Institute of Technology head gobsmacked at tertiary reform draft

The head of the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is refusing to believe details in leaked documents on tertiary education reforms.

The draft Cabinet paper says assets including buildings and land will be taken away and consolidated by a head office.

"It appears National has got parts of a draft Cabinet paper, which was not due to go to Cabinet on Monday," Education Minister Chris Hipkins told Newshub on Friday. "We won't be making any comment until after Cabinet has made its decisions."

SIT has been planning to convert a church into a creative centre, and chief executive Penny Simmonds says thankfully the government can not physically take the actual buildings away.

"At least we've still got the bricks and mortar here in Invercargill. It's hard to believe the decision-making for things like that could possibly be made centrally," she told Newshub.

The documents show the schools will be grouped under an Institute of Skills and Technology, as Hipkins proposed last year.

Simmonds says if the draft is correct, the last 18 months of consultation have not been genuine.

"It's been probably a big waste of time and taxpayer money if there has been no change from the original proposal... I'm just very hopeful that it's the wrong draft, and the minister has listened to the community and isn't doing anything quite as foolish as that paper seems to show."

National says it will oppose the reforms.



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