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TEAC Launch Speech - Shaping the Strategy

RUSSELL MARSHALL
TEAC Launch Speech 31 July 2001
Shaping the Strategy

Since May 2000, the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission has been working on developing a more widely-shared strategic direction for, and understanding about, tertiary education. This has involved producing three reports so far - the first being Shaping a Shared Vision released in July last year, the second, Shaping the System, released in March this year, and now the final in the trilogy on strategy, Shaping the Strategy that we are releasing today.

Shaping the Strategy builds on the first two reports to identify the contribution tertiary education can make in transforming New Zealand into a knowledge society. It also provides a strategic framework for implementing a more planned approach to tertiary education and it is this matter which is the focus of the Commission’s final report to be provided to the Minister by early September.

[Overhead 1]

In our last report, Shaping the System, the Commission described the elements of a new tertiary policy framework. These elements collectively constitute a new paradigm viewing the entire sector from the system level.

This new paradigm uses an integrated approach of inclusiveness, partnership and intelligent intervention to co-ordinate and to resource the tertiary education system in order that:

- the diversity and distinctive roles within the whole system are recognised and valued;
- stakeholders are actively involved in steering the system to ensure national and local responsiveness;
- there is greater specialisation and there are more areas of concentration and better linkages and networks to ensure efficiency and promote excellence; and
- there is genuine partnership with Maori in the delivery of tertiary education.

[Overhead 2]

This latest report sets out to assist in achieving the paradigm shift. The tertiary education strategy is made up of
- A vision for New Zealand and for the tertiary education system
- National strategic goals that inform the development of tertiary education goals and other Government policy;
- A statement of outcomes and performance measures to measure the system’s ability to contribute to the national strategic goals; and
- In the environment of constrained resources, a set of priorities to help us identify where there is likely to be the greatest impact on the desired outcomes from the interventions made.

[Overhead 3]

The national strategic goals recommended by the Commission are
- Innovation - aimed at building a culture of innovation and creativity in New Zealand. This goal reinforces the government’s strategic priority to expand the country’s knowledge base, its technological capabilities, and comparative advantage.

- Economic development - stressing the importance of the development of skills and of new knowledge, of applications of knowledge and of technological change as drivers for value-creation, innovation, and productivity gains across the economy.

- Social development - designed to assist in ensuring well-being, equity, democracy and inclusiveness in New Zealand society, by increasing knowledge of our own and others’ cultures, by supporting the dissemination and use of such knowledge and by fostering debate.

- Environmental sustainability - focussing on the sustainable management of all New Zealand’s environments (terrestrial, marine and atmospheric), and contributing to reducing hazards and risks associated with our unique environments.

- Fulfilling Treaty of Waitangi obligations through Maori development and recognising the need to develop better approaches to fulfil our obligations.

[Overhead 4]

The Commission believes that the tertiary education system needs to be better positioned to give effect to the national strategic goals. This requires:

- A shared view of how the tertiary education system contributes to the achievement of the national strategic goals by the Government, the providers within the system and the community;
- A commitment by providers to an improved system of accountability based on measuring both the performance of individual providers and of the system as a whole; and
- Decisions from the Government about where and how it will intervene or invest, in order to enable the system to respond more rapidly to identified priorities.

These are the matters the Commission discusses in its third report. Two proposals of particular interest are the development of a tertiary education “scorecard”, that could be used to describe and measure the system’s performance, and the question of priorities or areas of emphasis for the tertiary education system.

[Overhead 5]

The scorecard is our attempt to describe performance measures that could be used to measure the tertiary education system’s ability to contribute to the national strategic goals. This is a suggestion for which we would welcome some feedback. The Commission believes that the system as a whole has to be accountable for the investment made in it. The ability to link investment to desired outcomes in a valid and reliable way should be a requirement for increasing investment in the tertiary education system as a whole.

[Overhead 6]

Now to the matter of which areas of the tertiary education system should be given emphasis. Given the current weaknesses and strengths of system, the Commission proposes the following areas of priority:

- building the quality of learning;
- building stronger bridges into tertiary education;
- enhancing research quality, capacity and linkages; and
- developing the skills and environment for a distinctive knowledge society.

Focusing on these areas as priorities does not mean that the rest of the system should be neglected. On the contrary. The Commission believes that it is vital to maintain the achievements of the past decade of increasing participation and achievement, development of the industry training system and achievement by Maori and Pacific peoples.

In addition to maintaining these achievements, the Commission believes that there needs to be a greater emphasis on quality, the achievements of those traditionally under-represented in tertiary education and on providing incentives to support the development of the skills and knowledge needed for our future society.

[Overhead 7]

A greater emphasis on quality requires a greater focus on the outputs of tertiary education, such as completion rates and the related issues of retention, attrition and progression. We also need to ensure that learning is portable and transferable.

At the same time, we believe that we have to ensure that the nation’s “best and brightest” learners are well supported. “Quality”, from the perspective of the Commission, therefore contains several elements including:

- the quality of the learning experience - the appropriateness of learning materials and resources, programmes and teaching methods;
- the quality and appropriateness of the learning opportunities in relation to learners’ abilities and motivations; and
- the quality of the learning outcomes.

Providing a quality learning experience includes the need to ensure learning pathways and experiences are culturally appropriate. This means supporting whare wananga and other provision based in Matauranga Maori as well as providing additional support for learners of Te Reo Maori. For Pacific peoples, this would include ensuring access to, and support for, information and learning based on appropriate Island traditions and languages.

We need to ensure improve the accountability of providers for meeting the needs of Maori and Pacific learners.

[Overhead 8]

As its next priority, the Commission recommends that there is a greater focus on the “top and bottom” of the system. By “bottom”, we means those people who have not achieved previously in education and who have no, or very limited, qualifications. By “top”, we mean high-quality, world-class research and New Zealand’s top learners.

Focusing on the two ends of the tertiary education system would also enable the system to focus on the particular capacity and capability development needs of Maori and Pacific peoples. For both these groups, developing a critical mass of leaders, educators, and researchers is essential in order to meet their social and economic development aspirations. In focusing on the top and bottom of the tertiary education system, particular emphasis should be given to supporting these aspirations.
This involves two strategies. The first of these is building stronger bridges into tertiary education which has various possible implications, including:

- an explicit commitment to basic skills achievement goals, such as increasing the proportion of adults at level 3 or above on the International Adult Literacy Scale (IALS) by 2011;
- incentives for educationally disadvantaged students;
- a greater focus in Adult and Community Education (ACE) policy on serving the educationally disadvantaged and on better linking the ACE sector to the rest of the system;
- more extensive, independent and quality information and guidance on learning and career options focusing on the needs of individuals and employers;
- creating effective pathways for Maori and Pacific learners to better enable them to access learning opportunities;
- a review of the compulsory (secondary) and post-compulsory (tertiary) interface with a view to seamlessness, career pathways, and learner focus ; and
- greater support for ESOL, and for new migrants.

[Overhead 9]

The second strategy, improving research quality and capacity and incentivising research/industry and research/community linkages has several possible dimensions:

- ensuring the development of a critical mass of researchers in areas of priority, both by doing our best to retain New Zealand’s top students and by attracting top-quality international students and researchers;
- developing the capability and capacity of Maori and Pacific researchers;
- funding incentives to support capacity development; and
- focusing in qualification design on work skills or experience in research programmes.


[Overhead 10]

The final area of priority the Commission has identified is the competencies and attributes that we believe are fundamental to the development of the knowledge society New Zealand is aiming for. These competencies and attributes include:

- creativity, critical and reflective thinking, problem solving, technological competence, information retrieval, interpersonal and team skills, change management and an ability and desire to continue lifelong learning; and
- multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary thinking, learning, and research, that looks beyond the traditional classifications and boundaries of knowledge for the intersections that can produce new areas of knowledge, services, and products, and which address national priorities.

The Commission recommends that greater focus be placed on the development of these competencies, attributes, and the environment needed for a knowledge society through such mechanisms as:

- greater support for multidisciplinary programmes and new areas of convergent learning;
- a greater focus on increasing competencies and attributes for a knowledge society across all parts of the education system;
- discretionary funding to support new developments and innovations; and
- interventions to support greater levels of ICT literacy.

Some people may wonder why the Commission has not recommended a focus on specific disciplines or recommended a stronger application of workforce planning. There are two main reasons for our reluctance to do this.

Firstly, there is insufficient accurate information upon which to make such judgements. Traditionally, workforce planning has not been seen as successful in anticipating or supporting workforce development needs.

Secondly, supporting specific disciplines appears to run counter to the whole thrust of encouraging multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary thinking, skills, and outcomes. While some specific disciplines or programmes may well be proxies for creativity, flexibility and problem-solving, the Commission has yet to see convincing evidence to that effect.

The Commission does, however, see some value in the notion of w hat we have called “workforce nudging”, whereby greater support could be made available to meet specific, human capability needs, such as those required by Motorola when it looked recently at establishing a factory in Christchurch. Such support could be used to underpin aspects of industry/provider joint ventures, for example the acquisition of the necessary physical or human capital or trainee scholarships. Any public support for workforce nudging should be made contingent upon enterprises providing employment opportunities for the learners and graduates.


[Overhead 11]

Now to the final and perhaps the most interesting part of the report, the desirability test. This test was signalled in Shaping the System where the Commission recommended that before a provider’s programmes or activities received public funding they should meet the criteria of both a quality test and a desirability test.

The core requirement of the desirability test is whether or not a proposal in question provides sufficient net benefit. This will be assessed by determining whether a proposal:

1. gives effect to the national strategic goals and/or tertiary education priorities; and
2. enhances economic efficiency and effectiveness across the tertiary education system; and
3. assists appropriate differentiation and specialisation across the system.

Additional considerations may also need to be taken into account, depending upon the category of decision being made. For example, in determining whether to approve a profile, consideration will need to be given to the consistency of the proposed profile with the approved charter.

The Commission recommends that a desirability test be applied in the following situations:

1. The provision of advice by the TEC to the Minister on:
- the withdrawal or approval of charters;
- the recognition and re-recognition of ITOs;
- the recognition of Government Training Establishments (GTEs);
- the establishment, dis-establishment or merging of TEIs; and
- the approval of the use of protected terms.

2. The approval or withdrawal by the TEC of profiles.

[Overhead 12]

Implicit within the entire approach taken in this Report is the need to define interventions and actions to support the development of a high-quality, strategically oriented tertiary education system. The impact of the interventions and priorities chosen needs to be measured and the results used to evaluate their effectiveness in meeting the outcomes for the tertiary education system as a whole.

In the environment of scarce resources in which the tertiary education system continues to operate, there will always be a need to make choices about where resources and effort are concentrated. Adopting a portfolio approach to selecting these priorities limits the risks of selecting the wrong priority. The focus on priorities described in this Report does not mean that the other outcomes described for the tertiary education system are not important. Those other outcomes must continue to be supported if we are to achieve the vision of a knowledge society supported by access to lifelong learning for all.


ENDS

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