The Government will slash tertiary tuition fees for science, agriculture, and some health science courses such as physiotherapy, Budget 2014 shows.

Today's Budget allocated $198.6m in operating funding for new investments in tertiary education, $83.3 million of which would go towards lifting tuition subsidies for targeted subjects.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said science, technology, engineering and mathematics had been historically underfunded in comparison to humanities and commerce.

Read more:
Budget 2014: 10 things you need to know
Graphic: Where the Budget money goes
Bigger surplus unveiled, doctor visits for kids
Comment: The Great Brain Robbery


As a result, the Government would put $68m towards science subsidies, $8.5m for agriculture, $3.8m for pharmacy, and $3.1m for physiotherapy.

The investment in science-based skills was designed to improve innovation, productivity and growth.

The National-led Government has previously incentivised engineering courses.

Some of the $198.6m investment was new Crown funding, while some was reprioritised from within the tertiary education sector.

Mr Joyce said changes to student loans had led to fewer people taking up full-time study and instead moving into employment. In the last year, "not all allocated places were filled".

Video: Bill English - return to surplus:

Bill English has delivered an election year Budget which includes a bigger than forecast surplus, free doctors' visits for 400,000 more children, big cuts to ACC levies and dangles the prospect of tax cuts in front of voters. Finance Minister Mr English said the Government's much vaunted return to surplus would be $372 million, still slender but well ahead of the wafer thin $86 million forecast six months ago thanks to a rosier economic outlook.

Government announced a total of $857m in new funding in the education budget, though most of this had been pre-announced.

The total spend on early childhood, primary and secondary education in Budget 2014 rose to $10.1 billion.


Among the new allocations was $156m for early childhood education, as part of a bid to increase participation rates.

Of this money, $53.6 million would be used to subsidise ECE fees.

"Keeping fees as low as possible is vital if we are to increase early childhood participation, especially for children from Maori, Pasifika and low-income backgrounds," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

The remainder of the ECE money was designed to meet expected increases in the number of children attending, and the number of hours they would require.

Read more:
Housing affordability measures
Auckland transport projects get boost
$500m to extend paid parental leave
R & D tax break for startups
Police budget frozen
Beneficiaries left out
$25m to fight kauri dieback

Of the $172m in spending on new schools and classrooms, some would go towards a new school in North Canterbury, the Pegasus Bay School.


This spending was funded by the partial sale of state-owned power companies.

The largest slice of the new money would go towards the Investing in Educational Success Programme, announced by Prime Minister John Key in January.

The scheme created new principal and teacher roles, and an allowance to get the highest-performing principals to schools with the highest needs.

- $83.3m for lifting tuition subsidies for science, agriculture and selected health science
- $53m for four new Centres of Research Excellence

- $857.8m over four years
- $359m for leadership and quality teaching programme
- $85.3m for schools' operational grants
- $155.7m for early childhood education, including increase in fee subsidies
- $111.5m operating funding, including compensation for leaky buildings
- $172.5m for new schools and classrooms, including a new school in North Canterbury
- $2.5m for computers for low-income homes
- $4.7m for teacher aides for students with high health needs
- $2.4m for Reading Together programme