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Auckland University Hosts Visit by Israel Council


15 September 2000

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Use

University of Auckland Hosts Visit by Israel Council for Higher Education

The challenges facing New Zealand’s tertiary sector will come under the spotlight during a visit this month by two key staff of the Israel Council for Higher Education.

The University of Auckland is hosting Professor Nehemia Levtzion, Chairman of the Council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee and Mr Shlomo Herskovic, the Council’s Deputy Director General for Planning and Information. The Council for Higher Education is a semi-autonomous government agency in charge of all higher education affairs in Israel.

University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Dr John Hood said the visit is an opportunity for New Zealand policy-makers and the academic community to learn how Israel has structured its higher education system to achieve excellence in research and teaching, and broader participation in education.

“There are some immediate similarities between New Zealand and Israel. We are both nations with limited public resources that need to develop internationally competitive knowledge economies. We each have eight universities,” said Dr Hood.

“More important, the challenges facing our higher education sector parallel those addressed by Israel over the past ten years.

“During the 1990s, New Zealand’s tertiary sector was encouraged to compete for student enrolments in order to gain increased public funding. Now, the Government’s vision is for a more cooperative and collaborative education sector.

“Over the past ten years, Israel has also faced the rigours of a competitive, demand-driven tertiary sector. Rapid population growth led to significant growth in student numbers. Some universities doubled in size in order to meet demand, which raised questions of falling quality.”

Dr Hood said that the way Israel dealt with these issues was highly relevant to New Zealand policy makers. The Higher Education Council has stabilised Israel’s tertiary sector by assigning a mission for each type of institution – making it clear that they must stick to their different roles, and funding them accordingly.

Dr Hood said that the way in which New Zealand funded higher education in the future was a key issue for this country.

“New Zealand must sustain tertiary institutions that are internationally competitive. Yet our current funding model, driven by student numbers, fails to take into account the differences between research-led universities, and other tertiary education providers.

“New Zealand faces the task of encouraging high international standards throughout the tertiary sector, and maintaining high levels of participation.

“Achieving these goals is precisely the role of Israel’s Higher Education Council.

“It addresses these challenging issues by being specific about national education objectives, and about the mission of each tertiary institution.

“Inspired by the Californian higher education system, the Council has worked out a system based on funding of institutions differentially according to their mission and using a range of indicators in teaching and research specific to each institution’s mission.”

Dr Hood said The University of Auckland, in its submission to the Tertiary Education Advisory Committee, had recommended that New Zealand should establish a Higher Education Council.

“The Council would be an independent body. It would be charged with accrediting universities, and would also be responsible for funding decisions.

“The University of Auckland has invited Professor Levtzion and Mr Herskovic to New Zealand so they can brief government members, officials and the academic community and contribute to the debate about the future shape and administration of our tertiary sector,” said Dr Hood.

Professor Levtzion and Mr Herskovic will be in Auckland (18 – 19 September), Wellington (19 – 20 September) and Christchurch (21 September).


-end-

For further information contact:

Chris Tremewan or Jay Louisson
Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Baldwin Boyle Group
The University of Auckland

Ph. 09 373 7599 ext 6934; 021 618 498 09 486 6544


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