UE and interest-free loans stay - Govt's response to tertiary education report

2017

 

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In its response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into New Zealand’s tertiary education system, the Government says it will not be accepting the Commission’s recommendations to abolish University Entrance or reinstate interest on student loans.

These were just two of the 49 recommendations of the Commission’s report, New Models of Tertiary Education, which was released in March this year. Other key recommendations included making it easier for new providers to enter the market, developing a better careers education system, introducing self-accreditation for strong performers within the sector, and making it easier for students to transfer between courses.

In its response, the Government signalled its agreement, or agreement in principle, with 25 of the recommendations.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister, Paul Goldsmith says the Government will work with the sector over the next year to identify how to deliver some of the recommendations. Consultation will begin later this year for development of a new Tertiary Education Strategy in 2018.

The work programme will focus on creating a more student centred system that allows students to move easily through education and between education and employment. It will look to build on the current work on micro-credentials, and provide a better careers education programme.

Industry Training Federation chief executive Josh Williams agrees this is an important focus.

“As Minister Goldsmith said, demand for skills is at ‘fever pitch’. The challenge is to meet that demand, and to respond to industry needs,” says Williams.

“We’re pleased that immediate work will support smaller qualifications and micro-credentials, allow the system to deliver more personalised education and training, and allow learners to build up credentials in varied ways over time.”

However New Zealand Union of Student Associations (NZUSA) says for the tertiary system to be truly student-centred, it needs to involve students more in decisions around their learning.

"While efforts to provide better information, mobility and careers education are welcome, this only goes part-way in empowering students to optimise their tertiary experience. The other part is engaging and involving students as partners and co-producers in their own learning experience, the Minister’s plan is silent in these areas," says National President Jonathan Gee.

Gee gives the example of NZUSA’s recent Memorandum of Understanding with the Academic Quality Agency which supports students as auditors in assessing university academic quality.

The Government's work programme will also support education organisations to provide students with the skills and education needed for employment.

It will also look to improve performance across the system by ensuring government policy supports providers and government agencies to adapt and respond to demands of students and employers.

Lastly it will focus on enabling and encouraging innovative new models and providers.

“This is an opportunity for everyone involved with tertiary education to help shape and safeguard its future. I look forward to engaging with business, stakeholders, students, and the public to achieve a positive outcome for New Zealand,” says Goldsmith.

The Government’s formal response to the Productivity Commission’s report New Models of Tertiary Education can be found HERE.


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