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NZBRoundtable Supports Partnerships for Excellence

NZBR: Media Release 18 July 2002

New Zealand Business Roundtable Supports Partnerships for Excellence

The government is to be commended for its Partnerships for Excellence Framework, announced yesterday by the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) and the Associate Finance Minister, according to Norman LaRocque, Policy Advisor for the New Zealand Business Roundtable.

According to Mr LaRocque, the joint public-private sector investment framework could be a catalyst for more innovation and the modernisation of the New Zealand tertiary education sector. "Private sector participation can bring a number of benefits to the tertiary education sector, including improved quality, greater efficiency and an injection of capital and management expertise," Mr LaRocque said.

Mr LaRocque said the notion of public-private partnerships is not new. "Countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia and the United States make extensive use of public-private partnerships in various forms. In the UK alone, the private sector has invested more than $NZ4 billion in the education sector through public-private partnerships, of which one-quarter is in the higher education sector," he said.

While welcoming the policy, Mr LaRocque also highlighted the need for a well-designed application and review process. "The process needs to be sufficiently streamlined to encourage private investors, while at the same time ensuring that taxpayers’ investment is protected. The last thing anyone wants is for the private sector to enjoy all the upside risks, while taxpayers are loaded with all the downside risks," said Mr LaRocque.

Mr LaRocque said the government should also recognise that Private Training Establishments (PTEs) are, and are likely to remain, the biggest source of private capital and expertise in the tertiary education sector in New Zealand. It is estimated that, in 2000, polytechnics would have had to invest an additional $375 million in fixed assets in order to accommodate those students who were attending PTEs. "It is therefore critical that government policy be geared toward attracting further investment from quality PTEs," Mr LaRocque concluded.


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