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Over 64% of Private Courses (PTEs) of Low Quality

Over 64% of Private Courses of Low Quality and/or Relevance - Private Rort on Public Funds –

The government should be deeply ashamed of the outcome of the first year of a 3 year review of PTE (Private Tertiary Education) Courses by the TEC (Tertiary Education Commission).

In a media release late last week the TEC reported that of the 480 PTE qualifications reviewed so far the TEC has decided that 78 will no longer receive funding because they are of low quality and/or low relevance. A further 228 qualifications will receive funding next year but no longer unless their quality and/or relevance improves.

This represents 64% of PTE qualifications found to be of low quality or low relevance. On top of this the TEC reports that some PTE’s withdrew qualifications before they were assessed because they knew they would not meet the TEC criteria. We can only guess that the 64% figure would be much higher were these qualifications taken into account.

This is a staggering outcome – it represents an educational disaster which should never have been allowed to happen.

Both National and Labour governments have poured money into the PTE gravy train over many years. Government funding figures are as follows -

1996 $1 million 1997 $2 million 1998 $7 million 1999 $17 million 2000 $70 million 2001 $134 million 2002 $150 million From 2002 – above $150 million each year

Over many years now educational groups such as QPEC have repeatedly criticised this open-slather funding for low quality PTE courses while our public tertiary institutions have been starved of funds. It is a private rort on public funds.

Despite this there has been a conspiracy of silence between National and Labour.

Labour has allowed funding to surge because many PTE’s are Maori providers and it has suited Labour to point to burgeoning Maori tertiary education numbers at the same time as being able to point to lower numbers of young Maori in the dole queues.

National and ACT have kept silent because they favour “free market” government funding for the private sector at the expense of the state sector. The only tertiary courses criticised by ACT or National have been those courses provided by our publicly funded polytechs and Wananga.

This cynical support and lavish funding for low quality PTE courses by our main political parties is in sharp contrast to their hard-nosed attitudes to increases in funding for our public schools, polytechs and universities which have been on “starvation rations” over the same time.

At the heart of the problem is the government’s “free-market” tertiary education policy which has given funding to public or private providers for “bums on seats” – irrespective of the quality or relevance of the courses.

The biggest losers in this “free-market” funding of tertiary education – are young working class New Zealanders who are disproportionately Maori or Pacifica and who have often gone from PTE to PTE on a merry-go-round of low quality courses – attracting funding and a few credits here and there but gaining no meaningful qualifications.

QPEC continues to advocate for Maori education initiatives to be funded through a Treaty of Waitangi partnership model as opposed to the so-called “free-market”.

QPEC has called on the government to withdraw funding for all low level courses unless students are directly stair-cased into higher level, high quality courses which lead to meaningful qualifications.

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