Efforts to privatise tertiary education to come under public scrutiny

Posted By TEU on May 3, 2017 |


Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 16

Recommendations to reform the tertiary education sector to function as a profit-driven market will come under scrutiny at two public forums next week.

Taking place on 10 May in Wellington and 11 May in Auckland, the forums will feature a range of expert panelists who will critique the Productivity Commission’s recent report into the future of tertiary education.

The forums have been planned to coincide with the first reading in Parliament of a controversial law that could see funding being stripped away from public education and handed to private businesses.

The Productivity Commission presented evidence showing that where National had taken this competition-first approach to tertiary education it had failed, but then bizarrely went on to recommend more of the same.

Overall, the Commission’s 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.

The proposed law, championed by Tertiary Education Minister, Paul Goldsmith, would reform the sector with a strikingly similar objective in mind.

The law would also smooth the way for private business to siphon off public money to offer courses with little guarantee of their quality, as well as granting the Minister new powers to fund institutions based on market rather than public demand.

Granting Ministers the freedom to fund private, profit-driven teaching businesses instead of properly funding polytechnics, universities and wānanga, would usher in a period of immense uncertainty for public tertiary education in New Zealand.

National president of the TEU, Sandra Grey, urged people in Auckland and Wellington to attend one of the forums so they can have their say on the sector’s future.

“Backed by the Productivity Commission, National is trying to make it law to increase the proportion of public funds that go towards helping private business profit from educating future generations. We need to consider very carefully what the upsides and downsides of this are, particularly when the Commission was so clear about where National’s reforms had failed.

“There is a risk that tertiary education will be privatised right under our noses, so its crucial people stand up and take notice. Attending one of these forums would be a great way for people to say how the sector should be run in the future – in the interests of business, or in the interests of students.”

More information about the forum on 10 May in Wellington jointly hosted by the TEU, the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) and the School of Government at Victoria University, is available here.

Further details about the Auckland forum on 11 May jointly hosted by the TEU, NZUSA and the Policy Observatory are available here.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. National’s failure to keep Ara pledge a betrayal of Timaru community
  2. Supporters urged to take action in support of pay equity
  3. Pressure builds on Victoria VC to pay the Living Wage
  4. Budget unlikely to include new spending for tertiary education

Other news

Most New Zealanders will have to pay full fees to study in Australia from 1 January 2018, according to proposals announced by the Australian Government – Australian Government

Education New Zealand estimates that the number of international students enrolled in tertiary education this year will increase to over 130,000 – MSN

Dr. Thérèse Arseneau has been appointed as the new Chair of the Ara Council following the resignation of Jenn Bestwick – Scoop

Dr. Mark Ewen has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of NorthTec – Stuff

Intueri has announced that the sale of its dive school has not yet been finalised as expected by the end of April – NZX

Skills Active Careerforce, ServiceIQ and HITO have launched At Your Service Aotearoa, a joint initiative to highlight the importance of training and upskilling for New Zealand’s service industries – Skills Active

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