League tables relegate learning context

Posted By TEU on Sep 9, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 34

Dr Roy Sharp told TEU last week that “We are not using a league table model.” However, what his Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has done this week is release a table of tertiary institutions ranking them from top to bottom according to how they perform against four indicators. The indicators are: successful course completion, completion of qualifications, student progression to higher level study, and students retained in study.

The TEC’s non-league table drew immediate criticism from TEU national secretary, Sharn Riggs, who said that it provided students and the public with irrelevant comparisons and bad measurements.

“League tables like those released today simply tell institutions and their prospective students that we measure success not by how far you come but how far in front you start before the journey even begins.”

Those institutions that ranked highly on the tables were quick to publically praise their own success, but attention is now turning to those that ranked at the foot of the tables.

TEC has signalled that those institutions which do not measure up according to this data may lose up to 5 percent of their overall public funding.

NZ ITP Chairman Dr James Buwalda says that it can be useful to compare performance of institutions at the level of study you’re interested in, “but the aggregate measures also published today provide no useful information.”

“Students at different levels face different barriers to completion and progression – a second-chance student in foundation education (levels 1-2) will face different challenges to a PhD student with years of study under their belt. For example, part time students do not complete qualifications or progress to higher levels at the same rates as those in full-time study. Many find it challenging to balance their study with work and other programmes.”

Ralph Springett, President of the Massey University Extramural Students’ Society says Massey, with its large part time extramural cohort, is being penalised for providing education to those balancing study with work, parenting and financial pressures.

“The government has lost the plot when it comes to the value of part time study,” says Mr Springett. “It is ridiculous that students who avoid taking a student loan and work productively are the ones singled out as non-performers.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Earthquake hit institutions rebuilding
  2. Redundancies continue in Otago
  3. University general staff to contest TEU election
  4. Student fees increase dramatically
  5. Dr Sharp calls for more measurement and rankings
  6. Reading the international university ranking tea leaves

Other news

Massey University’s College of Education announced yesterday that new students would vie for 200 fewer places, with only the highest-calibre applicants guaranteed acceptance. The announcement came after a Government clamp-down on funding contributed to tightened entry criteria, which now affects all of the university’s teaching programmes. The total first-year intake to the College of Education for next year will be 370, down from 575 this year. Current students will not be affected by the cutbacks  – Manawatu Standard

Trev is not this Kiwi loan refugee’s real name, but that’s what we’ll call him because he wouldn’t be too happy to be outed and get a knock on his Queensland door from a debt collector, thanks to a small loan he took out as a 19-year-old, largely to buy a stereo. Five years ago the original $7000 had risen to $157,000 and was accelerating so fast Trev fears the total is likely to be approaching $250,000 by now  – The New Zealand Herald

“Good education increases employability,” says OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “In countries hit early by the recession, people with lower levels of education had more difficulties finding and keeping a job.” With demand for tertiary courses rising, according to analysis in this year’s edition of Education at a Glance, public resources invested in university education also pay off handsomely by bringing in additional tax revenues – OECD

Despite the unequivocal evidence of the economic crisis caused by unrestrained financial markets a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) continues to argue for spending efficiencies and the pursuit of failed market mechanisms in public education. – Education International

Psychologists have discovered that some of the most hallowed advice on study habits is flat wrong. For instance, many study skills courses insist that students find a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library, to take their work. The research finds just the opposite – New York Times

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: http://scr.im/stephenday

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