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Critical Examination Of TEAC Proposals Released


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EDUCATION FORUM

Critical Examination Of Teac Proposals Released

John Morris, chairman of the Education Forum, announced today the release of a report, commissioned by the Forum, on the proposals of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) for 'shaping' the tertiary education system.

The report was written by Norman LaRocque who has had extensive experience in education policy in the New Zealand public service (the Treasury and the Ministry of Education) and has worked for international bodies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. He is currently working for the international consultancy firm Arthur Andersen.

Mr Morris said that the release of the report was timely, coming after the second of the four reports to be submitted by TEAC to the government. "Mr LaRocque has examined the main concepts and assumptions underlying TEAC's proposals for the way the tertiary system should be 'shaped' and the institutions and mechanisms to be used for this. The government, in response to TEAC's second report, has announced the establishment of a new intermediary body, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), with wide regulatory and funding powers.

"It is disappointing to find yet another major education policy initiative being based largely on unsubstantiated assertions and not on good analysis", said Mr Morris. "Mr LaRocque has pointed out that much of TEAC's report is based on mistaken ideas about the nature of competition and the ability of education bureaucrats to acquire and interpret the vast amount of information required to 'steer' a large and very diverse tertiary system in the best interests of the nation.

"TEAC offers a superficially persuasive picture of the current situation: under the present 'market' system there is too much competition, duplication and fragmentation in the tertiary sector and not enough collaboration, differentiation, and coordination; hence we need a powerful central body with effective mechanisms at its disposal to address these problems. But when the underlying assumptions are examined, as Mr LaRocque has done, this picture is seen as highly distorted and not a sound basis for good policy.

"Mr LaRocque points out that there is no 'perfect' tertiary education system – it's a question of making the best practical choices. Mr LaRocque concludes that the proposed system will be far worse than the existing one (which is not without its own problems) and poses very considerable risks of bureaucratic delays, the intrusion of politics into education planning and academic life, and a tertiary system which is unable to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of a modern society and economy.

"I hope that the government, the TEAC, students and tertiary providers will take careful note of this report's contribution to a most important debate. TEAC has not yet completed its task, and the government has yet to introduce its proposed legislation. It is not too late to change tack in the interests of a better outcome", concluded Mr Morris.

Issued by the Education Forum
4 July 2001

For further information:

John Morris at 09-623-5422 (w) or jmorris@ags.school.nz

Norman LaRocque at 04-922-2636 (w) or norman.larocque@nz.arthurandersen.com

Michael Irwin at 04-499-0790 (w) or 04-479-5767 (h) or nzbr@actrix.gen.nz

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