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Australian budget a pointer for NZ's tertiary

Australian budget a pointer for future of tertiary education in New Zealand

More flexible fee-setting and increased numbers of fee-paying students - education initiatives from the Australian budget - show the way ahead for New Zealand's tertiary sector, according to the Education Forum.

The Australian Budget for 2003 was released last night, with the New Zealand Budget due tomorrow.

Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque said the Australian education announcements were consistent with global trends toward less centralised regulation and increasing private investment.

The reform direction in Australia is much more in line with the successful New Zealand education reforms of the 1990s. It also mirrors the reform direction announced earlier this year in Britain and that undertaken in recent years in Canada.

"The Australian higher education reforms are a timely reminder that our policy framework needs to be 'world-class'. While the government here has introduced some useful tertiary reforms, other changes it has made are increasingly at odds with global trends and world best-practice," Mr LaRocque said.

"New Zealand's tertiary institutions need to compete with those from Australia. The Australian initiatives, coupled with the introduction of fee caps in New Zealand, will see our tertiary institutions placed at a competitive disadvantage.

"We would never dare send an under-resourced All Blacks squad to play the Australians in the Bledisloe Cup, why should we expect our tertiary institutions to do it," Mr LaRocque said.

"We look forward to a budget announcement tomorrow that recognises that the way forward depends on giving tertiary institutions the flexibility to confidently meet the challenges and realities of tertiary education in the 21st century."

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