University student numbers stagnant
The Ministry of Education’s statements regarding growth in the numbers of tertiary students, in its recent report: New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector: Profiles and Trends 1998 are misleading. The figures hide the fact that growth in university student numbers has ceased, according to Rob Crozier, Executive Director of the Association of University Staff.
“The reported growth in student numbers does not apply to the universities, where major growth occurred in the 1980s [before the introduction of high fees and the student loan scheme]. Growth may be continuing for polytechnics, colleges of education and wananga, but it has slowed for universities and last year there was no growth in student numbers at all.
“Given the current, urgent concern with lifting the country’s skills, knowledge and research base, a halt to growth in university student numbers is an issue that should have been identified and addressed in a significant report on profile and trends such as this.
“The report, as a whole, reflects government policy of the late 1980s and 1990s, which viewed the tertiary education sector as one homogeneous entity, with all institutions having similar objectives and being funded on the same basis,” said Mr Crozier.
“The new Government’s stated policy of recognising and encouraging the different, specialised role of each part of the sector is long overdue. It is the only way to go if New Zealand is to produce the educational, social, economic and cultural outcomes needed in the new century.’