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Speech Notes: Shaping the System

The Tertiary Education Advisory Commission was established by the Government in May 2000 to develop a more widely-shared strategic direction for, and understanding about, tertiary education. This has to involve the providers, the research sector, businesses and communities, including Maori and Pacific peoples¡¦ and will enable the New Zealand society and economy to develop more sustainably and rapidly in the future.

The Commission released its first Report Shaping a Shared Vision in July last year, and set out the framework for the Commission¡¦s thinking and future work.

The Report we are launching today, Shaping the System, follows on from Shaping a Shared Vision and is the culmination of intensive work by the Commission over the last six months. It addresses many of the concerns raised in the submissions we received, reflects our study of overseas jurisdictions and the Commission¡¦s own experience and expertise. The proposals we are making, if accepted by Government, will involve change for the tertiary education system. This is not the final word from the Commission. Two further reports are planned this year and I will talk more about these later.

[Overhead 1]

We start with what we are trying to do, a vision for tertiary education. There has been a substantial increase in access to education and training over the last fifteen years and that commitment must continue if New Zealand is to respond to the needs of a knowledge society and of lifelong learners. But we also need to recognise the importance not only of quantity but also of quality in teaching, learning and research. It is essential that we achieve and maintain international standards of excellence in teaching and research. The tertiary education system, in the Commission¡¦s view also has an important role in contributing to the Nation¡¦s wider economic and social goals by creating wealth, contributing to our sense of national identity, and developing the skills and knowledge necessary to support a knowledge society.

[Overhead 2]

Having set out the larger view, the challenge for TEAC was then to work out how and where tertiary education can best fulfil this vision. From the work we have done, it is clear that the present system is still unable to meet the country¡¦s post-compulsory education needs. The major problems we have identified are:
1. The inability of the government to intervene effectively to improve the quality and effectiveness of the system, to prevent unnecessary duplication and to ensure adequate graduates in priority areas. In addition, the system is not seen as being responsive to the needs of industry, other key stakeholders or of the wider community;
2. Policy instruments such as Charters, statements of objectives and industry training, TOP and Youth Training contracts that impose considerable constraints on some parts of the system while leaving others almost entirely alone;
3. Different rules and regulations for different parts of the system such as how different types of providers are established or dis-established;
4. Difficulties for the system in meeting in real terms Treaty of Waitangi obligations; and
5. Continued inequality of access particularly for disadvantaged groups who have difficulty accessing learning opportunities appropriate to their needs.

Other challenges impacting on the tertiary education system and requiring its response include:
„h The development of a knowledge society;
„h Changing technology;
„h Globalisation; and
„h Demographic changes.

[Overhead 3]

Having set out what we and others recognise as the present problems and challenges facing the tertiary education system, we are proposing five broad objectives as components of an overall tertiary education strategy. These are:
„h The ability to use resources to meet the strategic goals for tertiary education;
„h The ability to balance national priorities with those of local communities;
„h Ensuring excellence in learning, teaching and research;
„h Ensuring equitable access for all; and
„h fulfilment of Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

[Overhead 4]

Fulfilment of this strategy requires two things:
1. a better set of tools that can enable the Government to intervene intelligently in the tertiary education system; and
2. an independent body which enables government, providers, industry and the community to participate in the steering of the system.

[Overhead 5]

The broad proposal we are now bringing to the Government for the structure of a new regime has four major ingredients:
„h An intermediary body we have called the Tertiary Education Commission;
„h a new instrument for finer description of the functions of the much greater variety of providers now working in this field;
„h expanded and working use of present Charter provisions; and
„h a regime of Profiles for each institution seeking Government funding.

[Overhead 6]

The establishment of a Tertiary Education Commission is the major recommendation of this Report. We propose that the Commission be an autonomous entity responsible for the whole of the tertiary education system:
„h Private Training Establishments;
„h Industry Training Organisations;
„h Adult and Continuing Education;
„h Colleges of Education;
„h Wananga;
„h Polytechnics; and
„h Universities.

It would be made up of a board of people from Maoridom, industry, providers and the wider community and be supported by a secretariat.

The Commission would
„h consult and negotiate with providers over their charters and profiles,
„h provide advice to the Minister in relation to matters such as changing trends and needs in the system,
„h provide advice and guidance to providers,
„h monitor performance; and
„h allocate government funding to achieve the strategic goals of the tertiary education system.

[Overhead 7]

It would pick up most of what is at present done in that area by Skill New Zealand, including responsibility for industry training funding, school to work transition programmes, Modern Apprenticeships, second chance education, and the roles and functions of the Tertiary Resourcing Division and Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit of the Ministry of Education.

[Overhead 8]

We are proposing that the Tertiary Education Commission would use a ¡¥profiling system¡¦ to steer the tertiary education system. The proposed system has three elements designed to enable providers to focus on their special character and their contribution to the tertiary education system as a whole. The system also aims to discourage wasteful duplication while enabling providers to respond to the particular needs of the community they serve.

[Overhead 9]

Functional classifications are an instrument designed to focus on activities undertaken by providers rather than on their legal classifications. They enable greater differentiation within a provider type without creating a whole lot of new legal forms. We have suggested several possible classifications and existing legal forms fit easily within these. We have also recognised the need for supporting the roles groups such as ITOs play in the system where, although they don¡¦t deliver programmes as such, they are involved in purchasing training and standards setting. It is also clear that there is room for some providers to be classified under more than one category.

[Overhead 10]

We propose to retain charters as a description of the medium to long term focus of a provider receiving public funding. This would enable long term planning within the system. Every publicly funded provider would be required to negotiate a Charter with the Minister that would describe its special character and contribution to the tertiary education system as a whole. We expect that our changes would make such providers more accountable to the Government and to other stakeholders than the present practice.

[Overhead 11]

We propose to replace Statements of Objectives and funding contracts with Profiles, which would be negotiated with TEC. All quality assured providers, whether publicly funded or not would be required to negotiate a profile. For publicly funded providers, the Profiles would become the basis on which detailed funding decisions are made. For others these profiles would ensure that TEC has a comprehensive understanding of what is happening in the entire system. Like charters, profiles will require providers to specify their special character and contribution to the system as a whole and provide greater detail on the programmes and activities the provider is undertaking.

[Overhead 12]

There is one more element in our Report which is worth mentioning here: Centres and Networks of Research Excellence. This is a proposal designed to provide extra funding for high-class research networks, and thereby to assist in the further development of high-quality research capability and capacity.

[Overhead 13]

These proposals will require a great deal of change for the system which will have to be carefully worked through but this doesn¡¦t mean that nothing can happen this year. If the Government signs off on this package in principle, we could start working soon with Government to set up a TEC establishment unit. We could also begin to change charters and establish interim profiles for 2002, and we can begin to establish networks of excellence.

[Overhead 14]

We are currently working on two further reports. The first, which might be called the ¡§What¡¨ Report is focusing on the goals and priorities of the tertiary education system. These are important factors in how the TEC will make decisions about what is desirable in the system and what it will fund and at what rate. It will be forwarded to Ministers in June.

The second report might be called the ¡§How¡¨ Report and will deal with how the package of incentives and regulation will enable the tertiary education system to meet its strategic goals and priorities and will include funding and governance proposals. This draft goes to Ministers in August.

From here, we will need all concerned parties to work more closely together on these proposals policies in order to put them into place.


Contacts: Russell Marshall (04) 472 9723

Amanda Torr (04) 471 5346

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