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University staff warn of National’s leap backwards

The Association of University Staff says that the National Party is gearing up to return tertiary-education to the uncontrolled free-market approach of the 1990’s, encouraging competition rather than cooperation among public tertiary-education providers, and making them less accountable for their actions.

In a major speech to the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic this morning, National Party Leader, Dr Don Brash, said that, if elected, National would reduce the education bureaucracy and allow institutions alone to make decisions according to what he described as a “high-trust” model with fewer rules about how they operate.

AUS general Secretary, Helen Kelly said that, while Dr Brash noted that governments owe it to taxpayers and students to ensure that the tertiary education dollar is being spent wisely, it was naïve to believe that institutions acting in isolation to each other would make decisions in the best national interest.

“Recent history shows that deregulation of tertiary education resulted in the unnecessary duplication of courses, an escalation of student tuition fees and the breakdown in cooperation and collaboration among tertiary-education providers,” Ms Kelly said. “National’s proposals would mean that current policies, aimed towards a clearly defined long-term strategy and planned direction for tertiary-education in New Zealand, would inevitably break down.”

Ms Kelly said that current policy proposals, such as recognising and funding different types of tertiary-education providers on the basis of their distinctive roles, rewarding constructive behaviour and regulating student tuition fees would resulting in better and more productive education outcomes for the country as a whole, and that these would be compromised if Dr Brash’s free-market approach prevailed.

Ms Kelly also said that attacking the tertiary-education “bureaucracy”, such as proposed by Dr Brash, would see a return to the types of behaviour such as the funding rorts and enrolment inducements that had been evidenced from the likes of the Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology in the last few years.

Ends

For further information or comment please contact
Helen Kelly
General Secretary, Association of University Staff (AUS)
Phone (04) 915 6690 (work)
(04) 385 3153 (home)
Mobile 027 436 6308
Email helen.kelly@aus.ac.nz

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