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Staff Warn About Lowering Degree Standards

Association of University Staff - Media Release

Attn Education Reporter
Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Staff warn about lowering university degree standards

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has warned against dropping the legislative requirement for degrees to be taught by people mainly engaged in research, saying that such a move would threaten the quality of New Zealand academic qualifications and the international reputation of New Zealand degrees.

The warning comes after the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) today released a consultation paper which questions whether the legislative requirement for research-based teaching for degrees should be reviewed. The consultation paper forms part of a part of a review into the future roles of tertiary education organisations (TEOs) in New Zealand.

AUS National President, Dr Bill Rosenberg, said that research-informed teaching was vital for undergraduate degrees. "It is what distinguished degrees from other tertiary qualifications," he said. "Any suggestion that standards for degree-teaching should be lowered contradicted the Government's intention to strengthen New Zealand's academic reputation."

"The results of the recent Performance-Based Research Funding (PBRF) assessment clearly showed that quality-research in this country's education institutions was limited to universities," said Dr Rosenberg. "Poor PBRF results from the non-university institutions which teach degrees must not be used to justify lowering standards," he said.

Despite concerns about the future of degree teaching, Dr Rosenberg said the proposed review of the future roles of TEOs was welcome. "The competitive market system in education has failed, and it is increasingly clear that universities have certain roles that cannot and should not be filled by other education providers," he said. "We support the need for greater differentiation between tertiary institutions. Each has a unique role and can complement, rather than compete against, each other."

"AUS believes that the special role of universities, particularly in postgraduate research, needs not only to be recognized, but also adequately funded," said Dr Rosenberg.


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