AUS Tertiary Update
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
AUS is delighted with the change of direction in tertiary education policy signalled by Associate Minister of Education Steve Maharey, says AUS president Neville Blampied.
Mr Blampied was among 30-40 people at a 17 February meeting in Wellington to discuss the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC). TEAC is being set up to advise the government on the long-term strategic direction of tertiary education.
“It is enormously encouraging that New Zealand’s future needs as a knowledge society would be determined through a policy process that was collaborative, consultative, and visionary,” says Mr Blampied.
Mr Maharey says the government does not believe the tertiary education marketplace built up under National is capable of producing the educational or research outcomes New Zealand needs going into the 21st century.
TEAC will be an independent body outside the Ministry of Education and comprising up to eight people. Nominations are now being called for.
Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Advertising spending out of control.
2. Be cautious, Victoria.
3. Otago fears roll drop.
4. Loan decision welcomed.
ADVERTISING SPENDING OUT OF CONTROL
Does heavy spending on advertising and marketing by public tertiary institutions reflect intelligent life?
Not according to national student unions, who say that advertising spending has spiralled out of control in the last two years.
APSU and NZUSA have compared spending on advertising from six universities and polytechnics. It shows that spending rose by over 58% between 1998 and 2000, while in the same period total student numbers at the six institutions grew by just 5%.
"Since the beginning of this year, television, radio and newspaper advertising campaigns by universities and polytechnics have reached saturation levels," says NZUSA co-president Sam Huggard. “We seriously question whether public institutions should be allowed to spend student and public money in this way.”
Spending on advertising/marketing in 2000 varied from $150 per equivalent full time student (EFTS) to $330 per EFTS. At some institutions this would equate to around 10% of the student tuition fee being spent on advertising.
BE CAUTIOUS, VICTORIA
Victoria University should take a cautious approach to proposed lay-offs in the Faculty of Humanities, says AUS.
AUS executive director Rob Crozier acknowledged the university had been severely penalised by changes to postgraduate student funding made in the last Budget.
“The present government, however, is committed to a review of the funding system and will shortly be establishing a Tertiary Education Advisory Commission to assist with such a review.
“The government has also promised a move away from the competitive market model in tertiary education. The association therefore challenges Victoria to re-evaluate its priorities and reduce its expenditure on marketing and public relations before cutting the core business of the university,” says Mr Crozier.
OTAGO FEARS 4% DROP IN ROLLS
With a worried eye on preliminary enrolments, University of Otago officials are predicting student numbers this year may drop by up to 4%, leading to a fall in income of $3 million to $5 million.
However, unlike some other universities, Otago was financially strong enough to absorb the loss in the short term, says University vice-chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg.
Pre-enrolments in commerce were stable, but down in first-year health sciences and humanities, especially law, and down slightly in undergraduate science, especially physical education.
Otago’s student roll reached a record 17,000 last year, but if the projected decrease eventuates it will be the biggest of the decade. Dr Fogelberg attributed it partly to fewer seventh formers sitting bursary last year, noting one third of the national decline was in Otago and Southland.
Other factors included the "more buoyant" job market, which meant fewer school-leavers and mature students coming to university, and some students who had attended summer schools at other universities had not returned to Otago.
AUS has welcomed the government’s announcement that part-time students on low incomes will qualify for a full write-off on their student loan interest if their annual income is lower than $24,596.
“From the inception of the student loan scheme, the association has been critical of the threshold at which loans repayments commence,” said AUS president Neville Blampied.
“The government’s decision fits well with a philosophy of encouraging life-long learning and retraining for new employment possibilities.”
MURDOCH SEEKS TO ENROL
Universitas 21 (U21), a network of 16 international universities including the University of Auckland, is expanding to include multinational corporations. Rupert Murdoch’s company, News International, is one of five multinationals negotiating to join.
From an organisation formed to foster international student and faculty exchanges, U21 has moved quickly to capture opportunities for commercial growth in adult education and product development. Watch for U21 to move into Internet delivery of instruction.
CANADIANS BAIL OUT STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Canada is to bail out its banks over losses from a high rate of default on student loans. Three major banks are likely to receive $C100 million from the federal government, with students saying the money is a response to bank threats to pull out of the $C1 billion-a-year programme.
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Fridays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website: