Commission questions productivity

Posted By TEU on Feb 25, 2016 |

Tertiary Update Vol 19 No 6

The Productivity Commission needs to take a broader view of innovation and productivity if its inquiry is going to be useful, says TEU vice-president Cat Pausé.

The commission has just released an issues paper looking at productivity and innovation in tertiary education.

Pausé says public tertiary education institutions in New Zealand are already productive and innovative, but more importantly they are stable and successfully educating hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders each year.

“Our universities, polytechnics and wānanga don’t come and go like private businesses, they continue to innovate and educate for decades and centuries.”

Pausé says the issues paper does not specify what it means by tertiary education needing to be more productive. Instead it notes the government’s accusation that tertiary education suffers from ‘considerable inertia’.

“If ‘considerable inertia’ means we’re not knocking out replica widgets that meet short-term, contradictory demands of employers then, yeah, sure, there might be a problem. But I don’t think that is what anyone really wants.”

The commission’s working paper defines innovation as translating an idea or invention into a good or service that has value.

Pausé says many of TEU’s members who have been acknowledged for their excellent innovative work will have a much broader definition of innovation.

The issues paper spends a significant amount of time discussing the role employers can play promoting innovation and productivity in education but gives little analysis of the role people working in tertiary education play.

Pausé says people working in tertiary education have a central role to play in the debate about productivity and innovation.

The last chapter of the report (pp 81-94) raises a number of questions about how to make tertiary education more flexible and innovative by removing regulatory protections and limiting the monitoring and quality controls that make it hard for new private sector providers to ‘enter the market’.

On the other hand, important questions about improving access, participation and achievement for Māori, Pacific peoples, at-risk youth, people with disabilities and second chance learners (pp 78-79) are barely discussed.

Pausé says the paper raises concerns that tertiary education is not prepared for the challenge that new technologies that might put people out of jobs.

“People working in tertiary education have been adapting to new technologies for centuries. Universities, polytechnics and wānanga are already at least as well prepared to deal with the challenge of changing times as any private company that might or might not be around in ten years’ time,” says Pausé.

The commission is inviting people to submit on the issues paper until 4 May. The commission’s inquiry should finish in February 2017.

TEU is organising opportunities for the commission to meet directly with people working in tertiary education, to ensure it hears their voices during its inquiry.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Ag company funding influencing research results
  2. Public wants for support for provinces
  3. TPPA laws pass before US ratifies agreement
  4. Union colleagues in Fiji weather horrific destruction

Other news

Less than 1 percent of all full-time equivalent positions created at Australian universities in the past decade have been tenured teaching and research roles, with casuals now making up nearly 80 percent of all teaching-only positions – The Australian

Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce said the National government was keen to push international students to look at the regions for study options. “It’s currently quite dominated by Auckland and Canterbury and we want to see further development in regional areas” – Taranaki Daily News

Over 100 first-year students have been caught out days before moving into their halls of residence. Students have been told they will be sharing their single room with another student in a bunk bed, and were told their fees would be decreased – Salient

No one knows how Giulio Regeni was murdered, or by whom. But from the moment the body of the 28-year-old Italian graduate student was found on the side of the road in a Cairo suburb, suspicion has fallen on Egypt’s security services – Al-Fanar Media

Inland Revenue said the 10 borrowers with the largest loans collectively owed more than $3 million as at June 30 last year – New Zealand Herald


Thanks to Sean MacEntee at Flickr for the image:

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