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TEC starts consultation on future roles

12 May 2004

TEC starts consultation on future roles of tertiary education organisations

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) today released a consultation paper featuring ideas about future roles of tertiary education organisations.

“This initiative follows in the path of the government’s Tertiary Education Strategy. Today’s consultation paper aims to generate discussion about roles in the sector and help tertiary education organisations’ alignment with the government’s objectives for the sector,” said TEC Acting Chair Kaye Turner.

“The TEC’s ‘Distinctive Contributions of Tertiary Education Organisations’ consultation paper indicates some possible outcomes of ideas it raises for discussion and the implications for some tertiary education organisations. We are a small country with limited resources that requires greater differentiation, specialisation and stronger links between tertiary education organisations. Today’s paper marks the start of consultation on how we could enhance development of a more focused, high quality, relevant and accessible tertiary education system.

“Differentiation and specialisation are one way to ensure a diversity of education, research and capability so the system can better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Differentiation of roles also has the potential to develop a critical mass and depth in some areas, to raise our international competitiveness and minimise wasteful duplication of resources.

“The paper features ideas for discussion about the roles and future for each of the following: universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), colleges of education, private training establishments, adult and community education, other tertiary education providers, government training establishments, Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), wananga, and Pacific peoples’ education. The possibility of establishing specialist colleges and dual–sector organisations is also raised.

“There will, though, be differences in the way institutions fulfil a particular role. This is not about putting them into boxes. We know ‘one size does not fit all’. However, once you look at the tertiary sector as a whole system, you have to know it has all the parts it needs to function – and that each is playing the role required.

The following are highlights of some of the ideas raised for discussion in the paper.

It is proposed that each university should have a significant proportion of its total students in research postgraduate programmes and sets out some possible benchmarks.

New Zealand legislation states that all degrees must be taught mainly by people engaged in research. This is not required in other countries and is not currently happening here. The paper asks if all degrees should require a research underpinning and is there merit in revisiting this legislative requirement.

Another question is where should expertise in sub-degree provision lie? The paper suggests it could be in Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), wananga and private training establishments. It is raised for discussion whether some limits should therefore be set on funding universities’ sub-degree programmes.

The role of polytechnics is also examined – in particular, their role as the key regional tertiary provider.

For colleges of education the paper asks if their learning environment could have closer integration with university education research and teacher education.

The paper also raises for discussion the concept of ‘Dual Sector’ tertiary education organisations and whether the ability to establish such organisations should be created.

The paper suggests we discuss what capabilities or links to other organisations might be required when polytechnics, colleges, wananga and private training organisations wish to offer postgraduate research degrees.

“There are other important ideas in the paper which should also be considered. Our aim is to involve the sector in working on these issues prior to providing advice on priorities for the next Tertiary Education Strategy Priorities (STEP),” said Ms Turner. The opportunity to provide comment closes August 20th. The paper is on the TEC website:


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