Turn tertiary education sector into a market, Productivity Commission recommends

Posted By TEU on Mar 23, 2017 |

Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 10

A major new report recommending reform of tertiary education failed to address the real problems faced by the sector, the TEU has said.

In its final report on New models of tertiary education, the Productivity Commission concludes that reforms introduced by the National 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 introduce more of the same market-driven approaches it concludes have failed.

“Having listened to those that work in tertiary education, the report’s findings clearly show that the current government’s approach is not working, but then bizarrely recommends it does more of the same,” Sandra Grey, TEU national president, said.

In one such example, the report recommends the government turn to ‘new entrants to the market’ to provide ‘disruptive innovation’, whereas the findings provide example after example of innovative and creative teaching in public institutions.

The report makes 49 recommendations in total, including making it easier for new providers to enter the system and using pricing to improve education access.

Overall, the recommendations set out a vision for tertiary education as 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, Tertiary Education Minister, recently tabled a new law to reform the tertiary education sector with a similar objective in mind.

“The Commission’s findings clearly show that the market-based reforms Paul Goldsmith’s new law would entrench have failed,” Grey said. She went on to urge the Minister “to consider the commission’s findings before making any further changes that could reduce access to tertiary education for millions of Kiwis.”

Rather than pooling our resources to meet education needs, Goldsmith seems to take the view that it is better to run the system down and then provide public funding to profit seekers who might offer to fill the gap.

These are the very same for-profit providers that then turn to public institutions for use of their resources, including classrooms, workshops, and libraries.

Similarly, the Commission’s vision is one of increased market influence over the future of tertiary education provision, with a diminished role for elected politicians that have a responsibility to our students and their communities.

In one bizarre section, the report criticises the government for having a ‘political interest’ in maintaining existing levels of regional provision, regardless of demand.

If the market is failing communities, resulting in education access being stripped away, then it is exactly right that the government should listen to employers, families, communities and students to ensure they provide for those communities.

“If Paul Goldsmith accepts the Commission’s recommendations he would be heading into September’s election asking that public funds are invested in tertiary education only for the rewards to be privatised,” Grey said.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Proposed job cuts at Waikato University prove National’s tertiary education experiment is failing
  2. Hundreds of staff at Auckland University strike for fair pay
  3. PTE goes into liquidation leaving students without study
  4. New global platform launched to end gender pay imbalance
  5. Renowned Pasifika scholar passes away
  6. Campaign to free jailed Bahraini scholar

Other news

Proposed staff cuts at Otago University’s physical education school are facing growing opposition from students and alumni – ODT

The Waikato Students’ Union has backed plans for a new medical school at the University of Waikato – Scoop

Victoria University has established a Faculty of Health to focus on non-clinical, non-medical subjects such as health promotion, health policy and health service delivery – Scoop

NZQA has released the results of a survey on Recognition of Prior Learning – NZQA

Tertiary Education Minister, Paul Goldsmith has announced seven reappointments to the governing councils of six institutes of technology and polytechnics, MIT, NMIT, The Open Polytechnic, SIT, Toi Ohomai and UCOL – Beehive

A restructure of senior management at Otago Polytechnic cost $200,000 in severance payments – ODT

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