Minister of tertiary education, Steven Joyce, told the UCOL Tertiary Teaching and Learning Conference last week that one of the issues the tertiary education system faces is that there are “very heavy controls on the sector, in price and volume.”
Mr Joyce said that the country needs “more people with degrees and the better paying jobs that come with them, more learners encouraged to get a good vocation and make things of their lives,[and] fewer young people falling through the gap between secondary and tertiary.”
“And I want to see second chance learners given the opportunity to improve their skills.”
However, despite continued media stories that many potential students are missing out on the opportunity to study because of government imposed funding cuts, Mr Joyce reiterated that there would be no new funding to address the problems he has identified. He noted that government currently invests more than $4 billion a year into the tertiary sector, including student support:
“That’s a massive amount of money, and compared to other countries we certainly aren’t tight in the tertiary area. It’s highly unlikely there will be any significant cash injections in the foreseeable future. The challenge is to get better results from what we are already spending.”
TEU national president, Dr Tom Ryan, said in response that, while the tertiary sector cannot and doesn’t expect a blank cheque from government, the minister urgently needs to stop viewing more students as a cost and start recognising them as an investment.
“The very students that this government wants to get new skills, new knowledge and new jobs, are the same ones that are missing out on places because of the government imposed funding restrictions on polytechnics, wānanga and universities.”