Ministry lauds the way tertiary education was

Posted By TEU on Aug 12, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 30

The secretary of education, Karen Sewell, in her official report Profile & Trends 2009: New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector, says that the tertiary education sector was performing well last year. The report covers the state of the tertiary education sector before the bulk of the government’s changes to the sector began to take effect.

The New Zealand Herald précis of Ms Sewell’s went as follows:

“We are smarter than ever, according to a report that shows at least half of all New Zealanders now hold a tertiary qualification. And not only are more people holding a tertiary qualification but the level at which they are studying has also increased.”

The story went on to notes that fifty percent of New Zealanders now hold a tertiary qualification, compared with 44 per cent a decade ago, and that 17 per cent have a bachelors or a higher qualification, compared with just 9.9 per cent in 1999.

TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan says that what the report shows is that tertiary institutions and their employees have been doing a great job.

“So of course it is hard to understand why the government now seems determined to make changes to a system that obviously was working well. Most of the policy changes it has signalled or implemented had not taken affect in 2009 when the data for this report was compiled. And some of the changes we are most concerned about, such as budget cuts and new funding models, and the cutting of democratic representation on polytechnic councils, will show their full effect from next year.”

Interestingly, given the ongoing debate about the government’s policy of refusing to fund many eligible potential students to study, and the subsequent tough enrolment policies being introduced at many universities, Ms Sewell argued that the economy benefits from having more students in courses of study:

“Increasing the number of New Zealanders with higher-level qualifications, and having more first-year international enrolments, are positive for our economy and our productivity,” Ms Sewell said.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Minister to answer curly question
  2. Ministry proves TEIs making profit at expense of staff
  3. TEU debates academic freedom and more
  4. UC tells students it will be voting them off the island
  5. “Unworkable’ sick leave proposal hides much worse employment law changes

Other news

NMIT’s handful of degree courses help underscore its educational credibility, and opting to dumb down the institute and dismantle programmes that have been carefully built up over time would be a huge loss. The community should be putting the acid on Tertiary Education Minister Stephen Joyce – for it is government funding that is the real villain, not NMIT leaders. Courses like these are a far cry from twilight golf and hip-hop tours, and are worth fighting for –Nelson Mail editorial

This week Tuia Te Ako 2010 brought together around three hundred people, who work for and with Māori tertiary learners, to discuss Māori advancement in tertiary education. Kaihautū Māori at Ako Aotearoa, Ngahiwi Apanui says, “no matter how much resource accrues from Treaty settlements, mātauranga or knowledge and skills has a vital part to play in the management and sustainability of the resource. The important thing is that there is now a Māori tertiary infrastructure in place that can act upon the ideas and discussions from the hui.” – Ako Aotearoa

British universities will start the new academic year with thousands of unfilled places, despite turning record numbers of youngsters away because fear of swingeing fines for over-recruitment will prompt universities to cut back on offers to students – The Independent

Otago Polytechnic head Phil Ker says his institution will continue to enrol young students in low-level qualifications, despite that category of student having the greatest potential to negatively affect tertiary education providers’ government funding –Otago Daily Times

US Prsident Barack Obama has committed his country to producing a further 8 million graduates by the end of the decade, and said that “America has to have the highest share of graduates compared with every other nation”. President Obama admitted that it was difficult to sell the importance of higher education at a time when the US was emerging from a debilitating depression. However, he said his argument was that “education is the economic issue of our time” and maintained that “countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow” – Times Higher Education Supplement

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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