The continued calls for ‘more productivity’ and increased ‘accountability’ in tertiary education ignore the fact that the staff who work within the tertiary education sector are driven and motivated individuals, who are always striving to achieve says TEU national president Sandra Grey.
“Big sticks are not needed to get better performance in a professional workforce, and increasing the number of forms we all fill in does not mean better quality teaching, learning, and research, it just means more paperwork.”
Dr Grey, who spoke to TEU’s Annual Conference last week says the demands for increased productivity ignore the fact that public education is not a ‘production line’ into which you can force more raw product and turn out more widgets.
“Though even for the hard core “econocrats” who dislike notions of public good we could argue that the on-going drive for productivity ignores the gains already made in the sector, gains made at a cost I might add.”
“In the last three years staff: student ratios in New Zealand have risen from 1:17.9 in 2009 to 1:19.8 in 2011. The calls for more productivity ignore that there has been an increase in research outputs at institutions and that students’ completions of programmes of study have risen. It also ignores the fact that funding in the sector is not keeping up with costs. The government is getting more for less.”
Dr Grey says the government and managers who continue to demand greater efficiencies need to be aware that this push could cost New Zealand institutions in terms of their international reputations.
“Underpinning much of the drive for greater accountability is the desire to ensure tax payer monies are well spent. We all want money spent efficiently, but some of the measures taken by tertiary institutions under the guise of prudent financial management have immensely high transaction costs.”
“At its most bizarre and banal, the drive for ‘economic efficiency’ in our sector has led to a department demanding that tutors bring back their used whiteboard markers before they can be issued with a new one.”