Mixed reactions to student bonding

Posted By TEU on Feb 26, 2009 |

Tertiary Update Volume 12, Number 4

The government’s announcement this week of a variety of voluntary bonding schemes for teachers, health professionals, and veterinarians has been met with a mixed reaction from the major players in the tertiary-education sector. The schemes offer graduates monetary incentives to work in hard-to-fill occupations and areas for a three-to-five-year period, starting this year.

TEU transitional national co-president, Tangi Tipene, expressed disappointment that the government had entirely missed the point about the reason for the shortage of teachers. “If teachers were paid decent salaries, retention may well be a thing of the past,” Ms Tipene said. “If they were given respect as a professional body and a huge contributor to this country’s economic growth, many of them may not be leaving their profession or our shores to higher salaries and better work conditions .”

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) welcomed the government’s interest in supporting new graduates and recognition of the problem of student debt, but warned that the limited nature of the schemes would narrow their chances of success. “For the lucky few who qualify for this initiative, it will provide very welcome relief,” said NZUSA co-president Sophia Blair.

“However, while we do acknowledge some merit in this policy, we are very concerned at the narrowness of the bonding scheme, and question why it is not universal in nature, given New Zealand has vast skill shortages across industries and professions and throughout the country”, Ms Blair added.

Medical Students’ Association president, William Perry, welcomed the attempt to address the exodus of medical graduates but also drew attention to their scheme’s limitations. “You can’t build a wall with one brick, but this is at least one brick and going towards helping New Zealand’s health-workforce situation,” Mr Perry said.

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) acknowledged the initiative as recognising the value of a university education but suggested that increased investment in the university system would be the way to increase the supply of teachers, doctors, nurses, and veterinarians. “The issue here is not just retaining these highly skilled graduates in New Zealand, it is also about having sufficient numbers undertaking university education in the relevant disciplines,” said NZVCC chair, Professor Roger Field.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. NZVCC proposals self-defeating
  2. TEU transition nears completion
  3. Penalties loom for “wayward enrolments”
  4. Public service job cut threats uncalled for
  5. Reading research has bold implications for teacher education
  6. Melbourne’s Victoria University to strike again
  7. Huge boost for South African students
  8. Stiff competition for UK places
  9. University of Zimbabwe closed by protests
  10. Taking heat for taking a raise

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email: http://scr.im/stephenday

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