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No Ideas And No Vision For Education From National

6 May 2001

No Ideas And No Vision For Education From National - Maharey

National's tertiary education taskforce report makes it clear the party has no fresh ideas and no vision for tertiary education, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

The report's key new idea that the student loan scheme should be renamed the student 'advances' scheme will be treated with derision by students and the public, while the plan to flood New Zealand's tertiary institutions one-for-one with full fee-paying foreign students would see the system losing any ability to focus on the needs of our economy and society.

"National has shown itself to be the party devoid of ideas and completely unable to think through the consequences of its so-called vision.

"No one will be fooled by the plan to rename the student loan scheme. Nor will the grand vision to deregulate the tertiary education system and it flood one-for-one with 200,000 overseas students do anything to build the skills we need for the knowledge society.

"The report reveals that Maurice Williamson has no support inside his own party. He says he wants to build political consensus around the Government's moves to develop a strategic and coordinated framework for all post-school education. His views contrast starkly with the deregulation agenda the tasforce recommends.

"The Government has put considerable effort and resources into developing our export education industry since we came to office. We are planning for a steady rise in the number of foreign students studying here in a way we can manage. Our plan will see the current 35,000 foreign students studying in New Zealand grow to around 70,000 over the coming four to five years.

"National's plan would see our entire system reorienting itself to focus on the needs of the full fee-paying foreign students they want to flood our institutions with. Interestingly, the emphasis within the industry is now shifting to educating overseas students in their country of origin using new technologies and New Zealand-developed course materials.

"Employers are crying out for the Government to refocus tertiary institutions on educating New Zealanders to meet the needs of our economy and society. National would have them abandon this vital nation building role in favour of attracting and meeting the needs of students from other countries," Steve Maharey said.

Backgrounder: key elements of the Government's approach to tertiary education

The Government is developing a strategic and coordinated framework for all post-school education based around the three core concepts of strategy, quality and access.

Strategy & Quality

- the Government has established a Tertiary Education Advisory Commission to build consensus on how the tertiary education system can be reshaped to meet the needs of the knowledge society.

- the Commission has published two reports: Shaping A Shared Vision (July 2000), a vision statement, and Shaping the System (February 2001), recommending significant reforms be undertaken. Government decisions on these recommendations are expected by the end of May 2001.

- provided support for NZQA to refocus itself as the sole guardian of the national qualifications framework

Access

- the Government has invested heavily to lower the costs to students of tertiary education. Initiatives include freezing fees, cancelling the interest off full time and low-income students while they are studying, extending eligibility for the Training Incentive Allowance and fixing the problems with the student loans and allowances processing system.

- parallel initiatives have seen significant new investment to boost industry training places, introduce the Modern Apprenticeships programme, and improve the availability of adult literacy programmes.

Export education

- developing an export education strategy to increase the value of the industry from $700m (at present) to around $1b within 4-5 years. The strategy aims to coordinate export education initiatives by New Zealand tertiary providers and to build their capacity to provide a quality education experience. It is expected that the strategy will be released in the second half of this year.

- funding was provided in Budget 2000 to undertake market development activities and the to fund the development of the strategy.

- the Prime Minister has included export education representatives in her overseas trade missions, including the recent mission to Asia where she was accompanied by the Chair of the Education New Zealand Trust, Russell Marshall.


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