Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce outlined how he will allocate tertiary education funding for the next five years when he released his new Tertiary Education Strategy yesterday. The strategy focuses almost exclusively on making sure tertiary education supports the economy, businesses and industry.
TEU national president Lesley Francey responded to the release saying tertiary education should support New Zealand businesses, and it already does. However, that role cannot come at the cost of the other duties tertiary education has to our communities and society.
“Steven Joyce’s Tertiary Education Strategy is a narrow and limiting view of tertiary education. It sees tertiary education’s main role as simply providing a free, publicly trained workforce and free publicly funded research to private businesses.”
“The is little space in the strategy for tertiary education’s many other roles such as giving local people lifelong learning opportunities, supporting democracy, strengthening our communities and standing up as a critic and conscience for important issues we need to debate as a community.”
Lesley Francey says the minister does not mention polytechnics once in his speech on the new strategy.
“His narrow focus on the private returns business can gain from universities has significant implications for our future education and research. The Tertiary Education Commission will use this strategy to direct more money from a shrinking funding pool to only that education that matters to business. All other the education which businesses do not want, will be left with a smaller pool of funding as a result.
“Tertiary education should be a treasure for all our communities, not simply a subsidy for businesses that have failed to invest in skills training or research and development.”
Lesley Francey says the strategy also assumes, without evidence that government can accurately predict what the country’s research, skill and knowledge requirements or priorities might be for the future, and then channel funding in that direction.