Dr. John Egan, TEU member and Director – Learning and Teaching Unit at the University of Auckland-Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau, shares some thoughts Objective Five: World class inclusive public education and the importance of ensuring a place for research in the Tertiary Education Strategy objectives.

The proposed revision of the Tertiary Education Strategy states “We are descendants of explorers, discoverers and innovators who used their knowledge to traverse distant horizons. Our learning will be inclusive, equitable and connected so we progress and achieve advances for our people and their future journeys and encounters”.

We are, indeed, descended from explorers, discoverers, and innovators—and scientists: tangata whenua and pākehā both have traditions of knowledge gathering and sharing. The new Tertiary Education Strategy needs to reflect how research best informs teaching, learning, and learning communities in our sector, but there is little mention of research across the five objectives and ten-year actions.

We cannot rely on inference or implication: we need research to be at the core of everything we do. Evaluation tells us what has happened and perhaps how to mitigate subsequent problems: research helps us predict and plan for what will be in the future. Research enables strategy, vision, and innovation—and celebrates best practice.

A revised Tertiary Education Strategy should incorporate research across all five proposed ten-year actions so that we may whaia te pae tawhiti kia tata – explore beyond the distant horizon and draw it near! With respect to the strategy’s objectives, here’s how we should substantively embed research into the new strategy:

Objective 1: actions to support learning: Support high quality practice-oriented pedagogical research across the sector.

Objective 2: actions to better meet the needs of all learners: Enable collaborative research that focuses on success in regional, rural, Māori, and under-served communities.

Objective 3: actions to lift quality of teaching: Develop guidelines and resource action research and scholarship of teaching and learning research to create a unique Aotearoa-based body of evidence of best practices.

Objective 4: actions to support lifelong learning: reinvigorate adult learning and education in the tertiary sector, with an emphasis on evidence-based practice.

Objective 5: actions to promote interdependence….: replace PBRF with a new peak body focused on supporting research in the humanities and social sciences, including a focus on education across the life course.

Our tertiary education system creates our future Aotearoa New Zealand. We teach and train, uncover, discover and disseminate because of research. We achieve great things thanks to tertiary education, with Aotearoa our greatest achievement of all.