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Ogilvy: Promoting Quality in Tertiary Education

Monday, 12 September 2005

Ogilvy: Promoting Quality in Tertiary Education

After over a decade of increasing the quantity of students participating in tertiary education, a new focus on the quality of education is well overdue, United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy said today as he released the party's tertiary education policy.

"Funding tertiary education providers on the basis of 'bums on seats' has inevitably led to the creation of dubious courses and has created incentives for institutions to lower entry and exit standards."

United Future will establish higher entrance standards for universities and provide funding incentives for universities to limit entry on the basis of academic performance, to shift the emphasis from quantity to quality. Teaching performance would also be incorporated into funding for tertiary providers based on course completion, student surveys, and teacher training.

United Future will ensure that tertiary education and training is responsive to the needs of the labour market by increasing the government's contribution to the costs of vocational courses in fields facing a shortage of qualified personnel (e.g. medicine), and by limiting the number of places funded for those qualifications in fields for which there is an oversupply of graduates.

"Tertiary education has become such a huge cost that students, their parents, and the taxpayer need to be assured that they are receiving value for money, and that students are making the right choices about further training," Mr Ogilvy said.

To this end, United Future would require providers to account for the total fees for courses (i.e. both the government's contribution and the fee charged to students) based on the actual costs of running the course, and by ensuring that students have access to this information so they can compare between providers.

Students would also be able to access information about the quality of courses. A new Educational Standards Authority (comprising NZQA, ERO, the Teachers' Council, and the monitoring section of TEC) will survey graduates of tertiary courses and ensure that their assessment of the quality of the course and its value (e.g. in terms of employment outcomes) are published and made available to prospective students.

"We also need to do much more to encourage young people into vocational training. United Future was the first party to pledge an increase in the number of modern apprenticeships to at least 10,000, and we will also increase places with other Industry Training Organisations," he said.

"Our ultimate goal is to ensure that all young people under 25 who are not at school should either be 'earning or learning': in some form of education/training or work."

United Future will also:

* Direct a new Educational Standards Authority to monitor all tertiary providers to ensure that students are accorded excellent, quality and effective education.

* Review current cost categories of tertiary institutions to reflect the real costs of provision for students, to better control the cost of student fees.

* Encourage links between tertiary providers and industry to ensure that skills taught are relevant and required in labour market.

* Encourage tertiary institutions to form collaborative relationships and share resources in libraries, health services, information technology, services for disabled students, printing and other areas to lower costs and improve services to students.

* Ensure that tertiary education instructors undergo a minimum amount of training in teaching, and require teaching performance to be monitored and included as a factor in promotion decisions.

* Ensure that degree courses are taught by staff actively engaged in research.

* Require tertiary institutions to include policies on students with disabilities in their charters and to report on these annually.

* Provide a special EFTS category for tertiary students with disabilities to improve their access to further education.

* Ensure that those entering vocational training have good basic skills in literacy and numeracy before leaving school to enrol in such programmes.

* Promote greater awareness of the opportunities afforded by vocational training, and focus on debunking the perception that learning such skills is a poor option for above average students.

* Increase funding for the number of modern apprenticeships to rise to at least 10,000 as well as increasing places with other Industry Training Organisations.

* Trial industry training for owner-operators and for older trainees.

* Consider apprenticeship style training for a wider range of vocations, such as teaching, accounting and law.

* Ensure that senior students have sufficient access to advice and information about career choices and opportunities for further education and training.

* Continue to fund adult and community education but review costs to ensure that they match the costs of running the course and survey students to ensure that courses meet their objectives

* Develop a strategy for adult and community education that determines the most appropriate provision of learning opportunities in both urban and rural settings

* Establish a network of 'rural education posts' to serve as adult and community education information centres and meeting places and providers, utilising existing educational facilities

* Increase funding for adult literacy programmes, including those in workplaces, and ensure that every community education centre runs such programmes.

* Increase funding for budget advice programmes, and ensure that every community education centre runs such programmes

ENDS

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