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Something missing here?

NZVCC Electronic News Bulletin Vol. 8 No. 6 29 April 2008

Lead item …

Something missing here?

While the NZVCC has welcomed today’s release of the NZ Skills Strategy Discussion Paper, the Committee remains concerned at the exclusive policy focus on study at levels one to four of the National Qualifications Framework. The major policy emphasis for university education in recent years has been research performance, leaving university undergraduate teaching neglected in the face of continual decline in per student funding over an 18-year period.

Commenting on the discussion paper release, the NZVCC has called for the strategy discourse to be broadened to encompass the full range of skills required for an effective national workforce. NZVCC chair Professor Roger Field has suggested that Government and policymakers should acknowledge that skill requirements extend beyond the traditional trades. In the digital age, the entire workforce needs to be highly skilled. That includes university graduates who have been educated in the more vocation-based disciplines such as architecture, design, teaching and nursing.

“Universities realise the importance of a skills strategy for New Zealand and support Government, business, industry training and union interests in making a concerted effort to look beyond routine training issues.

“When the strategy work touches on such issues as literacy, numeracy and language, those involved will appreciate universities’ pivotal role in ensuring, through effective teacher training, that the workforce is educated to an internationally-competitive level.

“The skills strategy places some emphasis on those already in the workforce and in that regard there is a large involvement by the professions in their university education programmes. In fact many professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, move back and forth from practice to teaching on an almost constant basis,” Professor Field says.

Other items …

University - Science NZ relationship discussed

Dr Alex Malahoff, Chief Executive of GNS Science and chair of the Crown Research Institutes’ representative body Science NZ, formerly known as ACRI, attended part of last week’s NZVCC meeting. Vice-Chancellors discussed the establishment of Science NZ and the relationship between that body and the universities with Dr Malahoff.

OECD review indicates NZ policy shortcomings

An overview document released this month on the OECD’s thematic review of tertiary education, entitled Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, points to some New Zealand tertiary education policy deficiencies in a section headed “main policy directions”. This country was one of 24 that took part in the review for the period 2004-2008. One of the policy directions identified in the document is the development of a funding strategy that facilitates the contribution of the tertiary education system to society and the economy. As the NZVCC has continually pointed out, Government cannot expect to see a more skilled workforce when it persists with funding policies that effectively run down New Zealand universities.

Overseas undergraduate education from NZVCC-administered programmes

Awards for 2008 have been made in a further two undergraduate scholarship programmes administered by the NZVCC which involve study at top universities overseas. Former Wellington College head boy Alex Ross is the latest recipient of the Douglas Myers Scholarship which will see him embark on a three-year, full-funded BA in economics at Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College. The Robertson Scholars for 2008 are 18-year-old Amir Malek of Hamilton and 17-year-old Oliver Wilson, a Dunedin resident. Both will spend four years at Duke University in North Carolina where Amir will study physics and Oliver, engineering. The NZVCC currently administers nine undergraduate scholarship programmes and nearly 30 graduate scholarship awards.

Demand for Australian university places remains strong

The continuing demand across Australia for a university education was highlighted in a report released yesterday by Universities Australia. While that country enjoys a resources boom, the current unmet demand for undergraduate university education there is estimated at 12,600 places. That figure represents a 65% reduction on the peak level in 2004, with more than 85% of eligible applicants receiving offers of university places this year. Universities Australia says Australian students recognise universities as a better post-school option for increasing their employment prospects, not withstanding the increase in employment opportunities associated with the resources boom.

According to Universities Australia CEO Dr Glenn Withers: “While the unmet demand for places has been effectively addressed, the nation’s emergent skill shortages nevertheless suggest that we are not producing the number of university graduates that Australia will require in the long term – we do need to encourage a greater proportion of school students to complete year 12 and enrol in universities or vocational education.” OECD data indicates that on average Australians aged 25 to 64 with university qualifications earn 39% more than those who leave school and do not go on to tertiary studies.

French academic links agreement approved

Vice-Chancellors have approved an academic links agreement between the NZVCC and the French Conférence des Présidents d’Université (CPU). NZVCC chair Professor Roger Field is due to sign the agreement in Paris in July.


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