Tertiary education Minister Paul Goldsmith would be taking a reckless gamble with Kiwis’ futures if he adopts the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s report into the future of the sector, sending a clear signal ahead of the election that the market comes before the interests of staff and students, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) said today.
The Productivity Commission’s report New models of tertiary education correctly identifies that reforms introduced by the National-led government have inhibited, rather than supported, people in tertiary education to show innovation in teaching and research. But rather than reforming the system to serve the needs of students, staff and local communities, the report recommends the Minister introduces more of the same market-driven approaches it concludes have failed.
Adopting the commission’s wide-ranging recommendations would increase the influence the market has over the future of tertiary education provision, diminishing the role of elected politicians that have a responsibility to our students and their communities. The report’s vision for tertiary education is one of market-based competition and profit, rather than the delivery of broad-based, publicly-funded programmes that meet community, iwi and hapū, business, industry and service provider needs. Paul Goldsmith recently tabled a draft law to reform the tertiary education sector that shares a similar vision.
Responding to the report Sandra Grey, TEU national president, said:
“The report clearly shows that the current government’s approach to tertiary education is not working, but then bizarrely recommends it does more of the same. If the Minister accepts these recommendations he would be heading into the election asking the public to invest its tax dollars in the tertiary education sector only for the rewards to be privatised.
“The timing of this report is also interesting, following as it does so soon after the Minister proposed a draft law that would lay the foundation for the next phase of market expansion in tertiary education. It seems strange to propose such sweeping changes weeks before the commission his government asked to advise on the future
direction of the sector had a chance to report.
“Having now reported we can see that the market-based reforms Paul Goldsmith’s flagship law will entrench have failed. The Minister would be wise to consider the commission’s findings before making any further changes that could reduce access to tertiary education for millions of Kiwis.”