Provincial polytechnics are warning a funding boost for Auckland institutions will come at the expense of the economy.
Extra funding has been provisionally allocated for Unitec and the Manukau Institute of Technology due to expanding rolls, but other institutions are facing cutbacks.
The chief executive of Rotorua's Waiariki Institute of Technology says it will lose $2.8 million of funding and 300 places for new students next year.
Pim Borren estimates that up to $50 million will be channelled into the Auckland institutions and says the move is short-sighted.
Dr Borren is predicting another skills shortage as the economy picks up and says there will not be enough people being trained in the regions to fill the gaps.
A formal announcement on funding is expected to be made by the Tertiary Education Commission next week.