Rising completion targets will cook the books

Posted By TEU on Aug 15, 2013 | 6 comments

Tertiary Update Vol 16 No 27

This year, nine institutions lost $1.8 million because they did not meet minimum-completion rates, and 35 are at risk of losing funding next year, according to a report by Radio New Zealand.

The Tertiary Education Commission’s required completion rates go up each year as the commission pressures institutions to ‘continuously improve’. Institutions that fall below the rising targets can lose up to five percent of their student achievement funding.

TEU national president Lesley Francey told Radio NZ the benchmarks are crude and will prompt institutions to pass students who should fail.

In the four years since 2009 polytechnics report lifting their completion of qualification rates dramatically from 50 percent to 70 percent, and their student retention rates from 42 percent to 60 percent.

Lesley Francey says that when funding is at risk, basic common sense suggests that ways will be found to avoid losing the money that are not the result of some magical teaching innovation.

Christine Clark from the Association of Private Education Providers agreed institutions might be tempted to take short-cuts if the thresholds go too high.

“I’m concerned it will promote cheating” she told Radio NZ.

Lesley Francey says the commission has stated that performance-linked funding is not intended to be punitive

“But that’s exactly what it is. Waiariki Institute of Technology was one of several institutions that lost funding ($130,000) because it performed badly on course and qualification league tables even though it has a high percentage of Māori students many of whom need additional support to complete courses. Massey University lost $1.6 million for the same reason with its high proportion of distance, part-time and mature students an important factor in their apparently poor performance.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Rallies protest employment laws
  2. Asian universities attract massive private funding
  3. Survey confirms it’s time for a Living Wage
  4. NEETs not working

Other news

Sydney University management announced that it was going to force numerous academics into punitive teaching-only positions or redundancy because it had miscalculated student fee income. To do this, it shifted the goalposts on work performance: if you hadn’t produced four research publications in less than three years, your job was under threat – Sydney Morning Herald

Prior to the earthquakes, the University of Canterbury’s marketing budget was fairly slim. These days it’s hard to miss the campaign. There are billboards, busbacks and adshels, primetime TV ads popping up halfway through Home & Away, cinema ads, radio slots, fliers, posters, a new website and the list goes on – Canta

For over 150 years, our nation has recognized that tuition-free primary and secondary schools were absolutely vital to the growth and functioning of our commonwealth. Providing free education, from kindergarten through high school, paid off big for us. Today, though, that’s not enough, for open access to a college degree or other advanced training is as vital to America as a high school diploma has been in our past – Common Dreams

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