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Killing Tertiary Competition Could Hurt Wgtn

Killing Tertiary Competition Could Hurt Wellington, As Well As Students

Wellington Mayoral candidates struggling to stand out should focus on the threat to the city if the Government does stamp out competition in education, ACT Tertiary Education Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

“With Massey and Victoria Universities both determined to have architecture schools, Wellington has the exciting prospect of becoming a hub for design. In competing they will create a buzz of ideas. Wellington as an education centre will complement our growing IT industry. But we need the ferment of lots of providers and employers, public and private.

“The bureaucrats in charge of Maharey’s plan to stamp out competition want to stop this ‘wasteful duplication’. They are determined to ensure students can’t vote with their feet by attending an institutions that matches their preferences.

“Instead, the new Tertiary Education Commission is to employ people ‘with a detailed understanding of each part of the system’ who will ‘steer’ resources to eliminate ‘cut throat’ competition. They will target graduates in ‘useful’ areas.

“Each institution will be confined within a charter. No institution will be allowed to do anything outside its charter.

“The outcomes are obvious. Brains and energy will be diverted to lobbying to restrict the charters of other institutions and to expanding their own. Competing for political favour instead of for students means institutes will not be as responsive to students’ requirements.

“Most institutions – at least for the time being – will be able to comfortably drop out of the real race: to qualify among the top-ranked international institutions. But eventually those with poor reputations will be left behind as also-rans. That won’t help Wellington.

“Perhaps worst of all, the whole grand project will have no effect on New Zealand’s “knowledge economy”. Production of graduates has next to nothing to do with the numbers that stay and work here. Their loyalty to New Zealand depends a lot on how they are valued or paid. Being targets for an envy tax will outweigh any amount of political blather about ‘protecting’ students from competition.

“If Wellington’s mayoralty candidates want to send a message now that they mean to defend and build on the excitement of our city, then they need to defend education competition,” Stephen Franks said.


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