Joyce calls for radical funding changes

Posted By TEU on Jul 15, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 26

Steven Joyce’s suggestion yesterday that tertiary funding should be linked to employment outcomes rather than academic outcomes is a dangerous path for the sector. That is the view of TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan.

Mr Joyce, the minister of tertiary education, yesterday told an audience at Victoria University of Wellington that he would like to see tertiary education funding linked to employment outcomes. He suggested this would send a strong signal to students about which qualifications and which institutions offer the best career prospects.

“A big risk in this approach is that institutions will be encouraged to divert funding into qualifications that offer mainly short-term employment prospects for students,” said Dr Ryan. “Meanwhile, investment will be diverted away from teaching and research in more ‘traditional’ areas which may have greater relevance to students’ long-term intellectual development and to this country’s long-term economic and social development”.

Mr Joyce also advocated once again his belief that some of the funding currently going to public tertiary education providers should be given to private providers.

“We need to have a look at pricing the subsidies based more on the cost of provision; looking at whether we need different subsidies for different levels of study; for different delivery modes; and rationalising the numbers of funding categories – in England they just have four. Here we have seventeen,” said the minister.

“We also have a quaint thing here where you get a different tuition subsidy whether you are a public or private provider – a thing started by the previous government – and on the face of it, it is a distinction that is pretty hard to defend.”

Dr Ryan noted, however, “That a major reason for the – quite minimal – funding differential is that public tertiary institutions invest significantly in long-term research and teaching facilities, such as libraries and lecture halls. They also provide their local communities with a focus for social, cultural, and sporting activities.”

“Mr Joyce’s suggestion is effectively to take tax payers’ money from public providers to give it to private companies, without any consideration of how or for what it might be used.”

The minister gave an extended interview on his speech on National Radio this morning.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Finally, a new ITP MECA
  2. Minister foresees ongoing high demand for tertiary education
  3. MIT stops work to discuss workload
  4. Treasury wanted more austere education budget
  5. 34,000 hours to be cut from Massey cleaning contract?
  6. Waikato Uni turns away hundreds of students

Other news

The increase in numbers of people on unemployment benefit to 62,085 shows that the recession is not over, according to the CTU. Peter Conway, CTU secretary, says it is important to remember that before the recession there were fewer than 18,000 people on unemployment benefit. The CTU has called on the Government to invest in job-rich programmes, skills development and green jobs. These figures show that more needs to be done.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Steven Joyce, was in Dunedin last week, and whilst there he talked to Dunedin’s Channel 9 about the pressures the tertiary sector is currently under. If you have ever wanted to look in to Mr Joyce’s eyes in extreme close up, this is the video for you – Channel 9

Universities Australia may lobby the government to raise the cap on government-funded over-enrolments next year. They believe this will help the sector weather a downturn in international students. While government funding rates for domestic students are well below the fees universities charge international students, advocates say it would cushion parts of the sector from falling international revenues by providing extra cash flow and students – The Australian

Iraq’s universities were once among the best-regarded in the Middle East, but subsequently were cut off from the international scholarly community during the isolation of the Saddam Hussein era, then devastated by the American-led invasion. Now a new US program, consisting of partnerships between five American institutions and five universities in Iraq, is finally seeking to rebuild its university expertise – The Chronicle of Higher Education

The University of Alabama may be ruing getting into a fight with labour activism expert Glenn Feldman. The university closed a training centre that the tenured labour historian ran. Convinced that they withdrew support — and now are trying to drive him out — because they have a pro-business bias, the professor has come at his bosses with two lawsuits, a faculty grievance, and a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint. He also mobilized members of the United Steelworkers to swamp the facsimile machines in the administration’s central office, and has sent the entire State Legislature an e-mail message accusing the University of Alabama system’s administration of misusing state funds and victimizing him because he is Hispanic. Along the way, Mr. Feldman helped establish a chapter of the American Association of University Professors on his campus — getting himself elected as its president — and persuaded the state conference of the AAUP to take up his cause – The Chronicle of Higher Education

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email:

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