Many tertiary education courses are too restrictive for modern students according to Unitec’s chief executive Rick Ede.
Ede told Kathryn Ryan’s Nine to Noon show that if institutions move away from the “old traditional chalk-and-talk model to a more collaborative, practical environment” learning can take place much more quickly.
“Why does a three-year degree from 20 or 30 years ago still take three years now? A simple reason is that an institution that wanted to deliver a three-year degree in two years would actually lose funding. They’d only get two years’ funding.”
Ede said that institutions that use technology well have students in their first year of courses taking on some challenges that third-year students used to do.
“At Unitec, we are quite literally re-engineering our whole organisation. We are radically downsizing our campus. We expect learners to be physically learning from us for a lot shorter space of time. Overwhelmingly, from the student perspective, the message to us is ‘why can’t you go faster’.”
The Productivity Commission and the Tertiary Education Commission are both currently investigating how to make tertiary education more productive.
However, Ede told Radio New Zealand that the Tertiary Education Commission’s efforts to make tertiary education more outcomes-based face significant challenges.
Outcomes such as graduate employment rates or the relevance of the qualification to the employer market or the productivity of the graduate when they enter the workplace are all extremely difficult to measure, he said.
TEU president Sandra Grey says that shifting to faster, employment market-driven education misses the point of education.
“Giving people just enough training to fill a short-term employment need is not more productive, it’s just more demoralising. Education should open doors for students and their communities, not parcel them off as quickly as possible with just enough to satisfy waiting employers,” says Grey.
Thanks to Michael Pardo at Flickr for the photo “Hurry!”