30 May 2024

Budget 2024: Education sees funding for new schools, training and cyber security

4:05 pm on 30 May 2024

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Government spending on schools and early childhood education increases nearly $1 billion in the next financial year to $19.1b.

However, the Budget showed the education spend would drop below $19b in 2025 and beyond.

The Budget included $2.5b in new spending over four years and a further $429 million in redirected savings, most of it from the Ministry of Education.

School property took half of the money - $1.5b over four years - including funding for new schools, maintenance and depreciation.

Early childhood subsidies increased two percent and school operations grants 2.5 percent with payments to schools for socioeconomic disadvantage increasing three percent for a four-year cost of $199m for schools and $191m for early education.

The other big-ticket item was $153m for school IT infrastructure and services including email protection, cyber security, software licences, and equipment replacement at the school network provider the Network for Learning (N4L).

Previously-announced initiatives included $476m to continue free school lunches until the end of 2026, $153m to establish charter schools, $67m for structured literacy training and resources, and $53m for teacher supply including school-based teacher education courses.

In tertiary education, the Budget switched the fees free policy for tertiary students' course fees from the first to last year of study from next year, saving the government $877m over four years.

The Budget also increased tertiary institutions' government subsidies 2.5 percent at a cost of $266m over four years.

Institutions would also be allowed to increase the fees they charge students by up to six percent.

The tertiary education budget included $65m over four years to continue monthly payments to employers who employed apprentices.

Overall spending on tertiary education was budgeted to decrease by about $1b over four years, but the total did not include an undisclosed sum set aside for costs associated with the disestablishment of the national skills and training institute Te Pukenga and the creation of a replacement.

The decline also reflected the eventual expiry of a short-term boost to tertiary institutions' subsidies provided by the previous government.

The Budget increased the interest rate on student loans for debtors living overseas from 3.9 to 4.9 percent for five years starting in April next year.

Savings in tertiary education included $195m over four years from the disestablishment of Workforce Development Councils, and $220m over five years from halting the creation of Te Pukenga.

The Education Budget showed savings from the ministry totalling more than $367m over four years plus $4.7m cut from it via the Tertiary Education Budget.

The cuts included $148m from staff costs and more than $100m from contractors and out-sourced professional services.

The Budget also cut almost $2.5m a year from the Education Review Office, $3.7m a year from the Tertiary Education Commission, and $2.3m a year from Education New Zealand.

The Budget for Business, Science and Innovation cut a total of about $35m from four major research funds - Health, Endeavour, Marsden and Strategic Science - from 2027.

It said $756m would remain in those funds in the 2027/28 year.

A further $173m over four years was saved from the conclusion of the National Science Challenges in June this year.

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