Minister Fiddles With Stats While Education Burns
The national student organisations today dismissed figures released by the Minister for Tertiary Education on tertiary enrolments as "a shameless attempt by the Government to pass off a nightmare as a dream."
"The Minister's figures are curiously light on detail," noted John Barkess, President of the Aotearoa Post-compulsory Student Union. "For example, when he states that enrolments are growing in polytechnics, he doesn't tell you that smaller regional polytechnics are being increasingly undermined by Government policy. Nor does he tell you that recent changes to the tertiary funding could well mean extinction for these public institutions, which are central pathways into tertiary education for people in the regions, and people from poorer backgrounds."
"The Minister's claims that Maori are benefiting most from Government policy are similarly outrageous," agreed Karen Skinner, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students' Association. "All that has happened is that the Government has agreed to pay for the unfunded places, which the wananga had been carrying at great cost to themselves."
What the Minister doesn't tell you is that Maori continue to be underrepresented in universities, and that Maori are considerably less likely to be taking degree-level courses. Research by Te Puni Kokiri has shown that Maori with degrees have the same low unemployment rate as other New Zealanders, whereas Maori with sub-degree qualifications are twice as likely to be unemployed." said Ms Skinner.
"And as for the Minister's claim that all courses and providers receiving public funding are 'quality-assured', Mr Bradford seems to have forgotten about the Creative Learning Environments disaster and other quality nightmares in the private education sector", said Ms Skinner. "The Government has done nothing to strengthen quality assurance in tertiary education, yet has opened the funding doors to a wide range of untested providers and shonky dealers."
"The Minister doesn't even seem to understand the tertiary funding system - there is no such thing as a 'P' funding rate," said Ms Skinner.
"In this period leading up to Christmas, we’ve been thinking about what students would want most of all. A Minister who had a vague understanding of how the tertiary sector worked, and what's really happening in tertiary education, would be a good start."