Tertiary sector welcomes Government funding, but too early to say it will save jobs, programmes

The Government's thrown struggling universities a lifeline - a nearly $130 million package spread over two years.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson made clear it wasn't a bailout, but a helping hand while the Government completes a much-needed review of the tertiary funding system. 

Hundreds of jobs are on the line at Otago University and dozens of courses could be cut too.

Students aren't happy and shared their message directly with the Prime Minister earlier this month.

It isn't the only one struggling. Victoria University in Wellington's planning to slash courses and cut staff too.

"It's been quite an anxiety-inducing process for people, there's a lot of anger and fear as well," said Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association president Jessica Ye. 

But the Government announced a lifeline on Tuesday.

"Today we're announcing an increase of $128 million to tertiary providers," said Education Minister Jan Tinetti. 

Not only that, but the Government will review the tertiary funding system too.

"Is the system fit for purpose, what tweaks need to be made, and look, in the past we've had reviews of different parts of the system, we need to look at the system as a whole," Tinetti said.

The funding will be shared among the country's tertiary providers split over two years to tide them over until the review is complete.

"That does give them the opportunity to have another look at the proposals that've been made," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. 

Otago and Victoria Universities are both heartened by the announcement but say it's too soon to confirm whether it will save jobs and programmes.

They're just two tertiary providers facing massive budget deficits and a large decline in enrolments.  

"The sector is under a lot of stress and this is going to make quite a difference in relieving that stress," said Chris Wheelan from Universities NZ. "It won't remove it but will certainly help relieve it."

Ye said: "It will hopefully allow some time to stop the current plans on the table for the cuts and then we can regroup."

Because students and staff not only want their jobs and study, but a sustainable future for tertiary education.