Minister commits to fixing tertiary funding model

Posted By TEU on May 24, 2018 | 2 comments

Tertiary Update – Vol 21 No 10

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has committed to fixing the failed funding model of the previous National Government.

Commenting after last week’s Budget, Hipkins said the government knows “the funding systems in tertiary education aren’t fit for purpose any longer.” He went on to say that the government is “absolutely committed to fixing the problem.”

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) was disappointed that Grant Robertson’s first Budget did little to address the funding challenges facing the sector. But having called for a signal that things would change, the TEU welcomed the Minister’s statement.

“Naturally we were extremely disappointed with the Budget. But we have since met with the Minister and he made clear that he understands the challenges we face as a sector. It is positive that he has committed to fixing the problems caused by the last National Government. We will be working hard to make sure that happens,” Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said.

Concerned that reform of the funding model could get lost in myriad of other government reviews underway, the TEU is now calling on Chris Hipkins to put in place a proper policy mechanism to bring about change.

Funding to tertiary education has been held constant since 2009, meaning that as the costs of the running sector have increased public institutions have not been able to keep up. Over the last 9 years this has led to a shortfall of $3.7 billion.

Tertiary education is currently funded under National’s competitive, market-based model. Institutions are made to compete for student achievement component funding and research money, and then have to account for the expenditure through performance measures, such as the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) and Educational Performance Indicators (EPIs).

EPIs focus on progressions, retentions and completions rather than on learning outcomes. This can create perverse incentives where staff are pressured to change marks or alter assessments, as TEU research has shown. Important measures of success such as improving equity in tertiary education, making the system more accessible, and helping learners to reach their potential are ignored.

The TEU is calling for a more collaborative approach to the funding and management of tertiary education institutions. This would include pooling public resources to support smaller student to staff ratios; improved student support services; research; and classes in regional centres.

Earlier this week TEU emailed its members asking for contributions towards a set of principles to guide reform of the funding model. These principles will be sent to the Minister shortly.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Budget forgets that tertiary education is the foundation of the future
  2. Time to break the rules
  3. VCs risk opting out of government’s vision, Otago cuts show
  4. University bargaining underway
  5. Reflections on the Education Summit

Other news

Academics have argued for a better government support for the humanities – Newsroom

Students at the University of Otago have launched an initiative to combat the stigma surrounding mental health – ODT

University and Tertiary Sport NZ has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council – UTSNZ

University of Canterbury academic Dr. Ann Brower has been given the 2017 Critic and Conscience of Society Award – Universities NZ

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