Alongside the Education Act reforms announced this week, the Government confirmed New Zealand tertiary education is also undergoing review.
Finance Minister Bill English and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce have asked the Productivity Commission to review new and emerging models of tertiary education. The inquiry will span the entire sector including universities, polytechnics and wānanga, as well as work-based training and private tertiary providers.
The Commission will look at how trends in technology, costs, and internationalisation might change the way tertiary education is funded, structured and delivered.
Tertiary providers have welcomed the Commission’s inquiry; among them, Victoria University of Wellington’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.
“In a fast-changing sector, it is crucial that we continue to understand and adopt international best practice and be nimble enough to take advantage of new and emerging models of tertiary education.”
Industry Training Federation (ITF) chief executive Josh Williams said they looked forward to working with the Commission on the inquiry.
“The most critical challenge for the system is to ensure that our collective investment in skills translates into improved workplace and labour productivity,” he said.
However, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations president Rory McCourt says the inquiry must measure the impact the increasing private cost of tertiary education is having on students, their families and the economy.
“The commission must look at the impact toxic student debt is having on home ownership, retirement savings and the rate of business start-ups among graduates,” says McCourt.
The Commission will report back to Government in February 2017.