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Labour On Tertiary Education

LABOUR’S VISION
Our tertiary education and training system must support New Zealand’s economic and social development, and environmental sustainability. The tertiary education system the Labour led government inherited had many strengths, not the least of which is the dedication of its staff. But, there were also weaknesses: it lacked a clear strategic direction, it was fragmented and underfunded, and there was inadequate cooperation and collaboration across the sector.

In its first term the Labour led government moved the tertiary education system away from an excessive concentration on enrolments and market share. Our tertiary education system will be driven by, and rewarded for, a focus on excellence, relevance and access. This includes a commitment to removing barriers to participation.

Labour takes an integrated approach to tertiary education. This encompasses all post-school learning throughout life, from adult and community education, literacy and training opportunities/youth training, through industry training, to teaching and research at universities, polytechnics, wananga and colleges of education.


LABOUR’S RECORD
In its first term, the Labour led government has drawn on the work of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) to provide the basis for a tertiary education system that underpins and builds on New Zealand’s comparative advantages through the creation and application of knowledge. This is being achieved through:
 The establishment of a Tertiary Education Commission.
 The use of Charters and Profiles for all publicly-funded tertiary education organisations to steer the system.
 The development of a Tertiary Education Strategy, which incorporates the views of stakeholders such as communities, industry and unions, iwi, and the sector.
 A new funding system that rewards performance and reflects strategic priorities.


The Labour led government has also undertaken fundamental reform to ensure that research funding is better accounted for, more closely connected with excellence, and less subject to fluctuation due to changing student preferences. Five Centres of Research Excellence have been established to support world-class research.


Predictability has been restored to the cost of tuition. Fees in 2001 and 2002 have remained at the same level that they were at in 2000, and all indications are that the same thing will occur in 2003. At the same time, the Labour led government has ended a decade of funding rate cuts under National, and has begun the process of reinvestment.

The Student Loan Scheme has been made fairer by removing interest on student loans for full time and other low income students while they are studying and maintaining the student loan interest rate. Our initiatives to support students have reduced predicted Student Loan repayment times and have contributed to a fall in the average amount of student loan debt for the first time since the Loan Scheme began.

Other achievements in the first term include:
 A ‘Students Work’ package of summer employment and assistance initiatives and the removal of the one-week gap in income support each summer for sole parents.
 Special grants to improve support to Mäori and Pacific tertiary students.
 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, to recognise the best teachers.


SECTION 1: STUDENT SUPPORT

Labour will:
 In the first year of its second term undertake a thorough Review of Student Support
o involving key stakeholders, and in particular students.
o including analysis of international models.
o informed by much better information about student debt as a result of the current ‘data integration’ initiative.
o leading to a comprehensive and sustainable set of policies for student support.


Labour’s priorities are:

Student Allowances
 Widen student allowance eligibility for single full-time students aged 18-24, beginning by progressively raising the parental income thresholds.
 Widen eligibility for the Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship in step with this.
 Extend student allowances, on the basis of parental income, to those tertiary students aged 16 and 17 who have finished year 13 at school (parents would not be eligible for family assistance for children in receipt of an allowance).
 Design, as part of the development of an Education and Training Leaving Age strategy (for further details see Labour’s Industry Training policy), living support arrangements for 16 and 17 year olds in training for whom continuing at school is no longer appropriate.
 Develop fairer provisions for non-custodial parents and parents with more than one dependent child in tertiary education.

Tuition costs
 Develop the system of maximum fees in close consultation with the tertiary education sector, including institutions, students and staff.
 Set out in the 2003 Budget the fee maxima that will be in place for courses of study for the 2004 academic year, and indicative fees for both 2005 and 2006.

The Student Loan Scheme
 Extend Student Loan Scheme eligibility to part-time, part-year students in approved courses.
 Review provisions to discourage loans being taken up for non-educational purposes.

Scholarships and Bonding
 Introduce scholarship and bonding arrangements, which can be used to address pressing recruitment and retention issues (such as current issues with the retention of doctors) as they arise, in partnership with the industry (and/or the relevant government portfolio).


SECTION 2: TEACHING, LEARNING AND RESEARCH

Investing in Capability
The Labour led government in its first term has ended a decade of cuts to tertiary institutions’ funding levels, and has begun the process of reinvestment.

Labour will:
 In its 2003 Budget, set out funding levels for tertiary education institutions for the 2004 academic year and indicative levels for a further two years, to increase investment to levels that will allow tertiary institutions to maintain and enhance standards, and retain quality staff, while ensuring predictability and stability of costs to students.
 Review the number of funded places for courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, and increase the current caps where appropriate.
 Progressively increase the Strategic Development Component of the integrated funding framework, so the Tertiary Education Commission can support initiatives to advance the Tertiary Education Strategy.
 Initiate an independent review of the governance of tertiary education institutions, to propose measures to improve the contribution that governing councils can make while guaranteeing stakeholder representation and democratic processes.


Ensuring Quality and Relevance

Labour will:
 Review the systems that support and ensure quality in tertiary education.
 Focus attention on the training and development of tertiary-level teachers, in both teaching and research as relevant.
 Initiate a strategic review and plan for the tertiary education workforce.
 Develop graduate employability through workplace experience within qualifications, and by promoting holiday work that better reflects students’ skills.
 Continue to develop and promote the Register of Quality-Assured Qualifications, and strengthen systems of credit transfer and recognition of prior learning.
 Evaluate the Learning and Assessment Centre pilots, with a view to expansion.
 Improve post-compulsory education options for disabled people, including promoting best practice, providing career guidance, increasing life long opportunities for learning, and better aligning financial support with educational opportunities.


Supporting Research

Labour will:
 Maintain the existing five Centres of Research Excellence and oversee the selection of new centres, through the additional funding provided in the 2002 Budget.
 Work with the sector and the Tertiary Education Commission to develop and implement criteria for the Performance-Based Research Fund.
 In accordance with commitments in the 2002 Budget, increase the new funds available for the Performance-Based Research Fund to $20 million a year by 2006, on top of funding transferred from degree ‘top-ups’.
 Introduce a pool of funding to enable new researchers to begin their research career.

LIFE LONG LEARNING

Adult and Community Education (ACE)
Labour is committed to the concept of lifelong learning and the recognition and support of the adult and community education sector

In 1999 Labour set out its policy for Adult Education and Community Learning in a document entitled Pathways and Networks, this included a commitment to set up a short term working party to make recommendations on a "blue print" for the future. In September 2000 the Adult and Community Learning Working Party was established and its report Koia Koia Towards a Learning Society was presented to Government in July 2001.

The Report was welcomed by the Labour led government and in October 2001 a reference group was established to work closely with the Ministry of Education to implement Cabinet's decisions in relation to the Working Party Report.

Significant progress has been made through:
 The appointment of a Chief Adviser of Adult and Community Education.
 The piloting of ACE Networks.
 Significant input into the Tertiary Education Strategy.
 Development of a communications strategy.
 The commencement of relevant research projects.

Labour recognises that a strengthened Adult and Community Education sector has an important role to play within the new tertiary structure in contributing to the country's educational, social and economic objectives. Adult and Community Education also provides learning opportunities to a wide range of people for whom the formal system can be inaccessible and inappropriate. It has the capacity to meet the learning needs of local communities, to introduce people to the joy of learning, to be flexible and inclusive and to offer pathways back into the formal education system.

Labour will:
 Take account of the recommendations of the Adult and Community Education Working Party Report and ACE Reference Group when developing policy.
 Appropriately resource adult and community education as an integral part of tertiary education.
 Develop a range of strategies to increase Maori participation in Adult and Community Education.
 Increase the capacity of the sector through:
o a planned approach to professional development.
o collection and collation of meaningful data.
o development of research programmes.
 Support the transition of Adult and Community Education into the Tertiary Education Commission.
 Make provision for statutory recognition of the adult and community education sector.
 Recognise the need for national leadership through the establishment of an ACE Board and/or an Advisory Committee of the Tertiary Education Commission.
 Resource an Adult and Community Education unit within the Tertiary Education Commission.
 Retain a capacity to support the sector within the Ministry of Education.

FOUNDATION SKILLS
The Tertiary Education Strategy recognises the need to raise foundation skills so that all people can participate in our knowledge society.

Foundation skills generally refer to a group of skills such as literacy, numeracy, technology skills, communications skills, knowing how to learn, self confidence building.

While ideally these skills are learnt within the compulsory education sector Labour recognises that the tertiary sector must provide for adults and young people who have not acquired sufficient skills in the school system or who require their skills to be updated.

A range of high quality providers are needed, offering different modes of learning in a variety of settings including the workplace, local communities, marae, churches, tertiary institutions, schools, etc.

Labour will:
 Build on the Literacy Strategy developed in the first term of Government.
 Strengthen and support the position of Adult Literacy Chief Adviser.
 Develop a funding structure that recognises different modes of delivery.
 Increase the capacity of providers of Foundation Skills through:
o a planned approach to professional development.
o development of appropriate quality assurance tools.
o research.

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