Bay of Plenty Polytechnic is outraged after it was acknowledged in a report as the country's worst offender for spending exorbitant amounts of money on advertising.
The report, released by the Tertiary Education Union, claimed the polytechnic spent more than $1.6 million on marketing and advertising costs last year - the highest in the country and 10 per cent of the polytechnic's total expenditure.
But the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic is adamant the results were invalid.
The report asked tertiary educators to provide their marketing expenditure, which included "advertising and promotional activities". This didn't include their total marketing expenditure, which included international marketing spend, sponsorships, salaries, scholarships and other costs.
The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic said the Parliamentary research data was misleading and was based on an "inconsistent definition that failed to compare like with like".
Paul Wollaston, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic finance director, said the figure of $1,637,000 did not identify marketing expenses separately and was the full cost of the overhead activity, which comprised of a number of different factors. "When Bay of Plenty Polytechnic applies the same criteria as other institutions ... our true marketing cost should be stated at $332,000."
This is the equivalent of 0.8 per cent of the polytechnic's 2009 total expenditure, he says.
The figures were gathered by the Parliamentary Library after a query by Green Party tertiary education spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
TEU president-elect Dr Sandra Grey acknowledged the report was up to the individual as to how to interpreted it and discrepancies had occurred. "There should always be caution when dealing with financial reporting."
She said in some cases of external reporting, separate institutions have "quite different ways of interpreting" the data.
Dr Grey said the variation in results made her wonder what the breakdown of spending within tertiary institutions was and how they were going about other indirect forms of marketing.
She said the Parliamentary Library report was reliant on information from the institutions as to where the money was spent.
"We can't guarantee everyone is saying exactly what is spent but we don't have the resources to chase people up."
Mr Wollaston said the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's concerns had been raised with the TEU and the Green Party.
The report showed 16 tertiary institutions were collectively spending more than $18 million of public funding and student fees to advertise and market themselves. New Zealand's other 15 tertiary institutions that were not included in the survey either failed to respond to the parliamentary request for information or refused to provide it.
The full report can be found at http://teu.ac.nz under the news headline.