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Progressive Coalition Teriary Education Policy

Tertiary Education


Education is not only a right, it is also an investment in a productive, healthy society. Our goal is to provide publicly funded early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education. We particularly need to ensure that the education system offers values and skills to the next generation, so that all children at primary and secondary school receive a high quality education in their own neighbourhood.

As regards tertiary education, a comprehensive reform process is under way with the Tertiary Education Commission. But spending existing funds in a better way is only the beginning. We need sustained increases in spending on education, especially at tertiary level, if we are to maintain our international comparability. We will strengthen TEC’s role in providing policy advice on tertiary issues to the government. Decisions in planning and funding for the sector will be dominated by concern for the medium and long-term national interest and will prevent unnecessary duplication of publicly-funded courses.

Our ambition for free tertiary education is backed by progressive steps. The student debt problem is increasingly recognised as a multi-billion mortgage on our young people’s futures, before most of them have even started their working lives! Our policies address the issues from all angles:

- stop the burden getting worse,

- reduce the scale of the debt by a range of incentives for payment and debt write-off,

- freeze fees,

- reduce or eliminate fees for the first year of study,

- introduce living allowances so students do not have to borrow funds to live,

- work towards the progressive elimination of all fees.

Progressive Ambitions

- Free public education progressively introduced at all levels

- A well-balanced education system, building the citizens and adults (not just the producers) of tomorrow

- Sustained investment in public education

- World-class expertise in our tertiary institutions in key centres

- High quality education and training in a comprehensive network of polytechnics

Progressive Steps

1. Progressively abolish fees for public tertiary education. As a start, we will negotiate to make the first year of study free with the opportunity to gain scholarships to continue studying.

2. Progressively abolish existing student loans by a combination of: reducing the interest rate on remaining student loans in real terms; raising the threshold for paying back loans so that low-income workers are not harshly penalised for doing tertiary study; waiving loans in return for service in key regions or industries; and other incentives for speedy repayment of capital.

3. Progressively fund a tertiary student allowance to enable living costs to be met without having to borrow money.

4. Research the effects of the student debt burden on individuals, families and the economy in order to inform debates and policy making on the funding of tertiary education.

5. Support the student employment and SNAP employment schemes which will be vigorously promoted to connect business needs with students over the summer holidays and for part time work during the year.

6. Establish a small Tertiary Education Staffing Unit to provide specialist advice to the government in this area; support benchmarking staff salaries with relevant other countries; promote tertiary teaching as a career; support those wanting to teach in areas of key national interest, and continue to support the tertiary teaching excellence awards.

7. Support the Centres of Research Excellence initiative.

8. Reaffirm the value of academic autonomy both to foster informed debate and to maintain the highest standards of academic achievement. This means that academics must have the right both to pursue their research without interference, and be free to speak out on issues of concern to the community.

9. Develop funding systems for tertiary institutions to take account of the national interest, the run down of infrastructure, staffing requirements, the true costs of courses at different institutions, student numbers, and the responsibilities of universities to provide research. Cross subsidisation of courses will be encouraged when they are in the national interest but may not be fashionable.

10. Ensure tertiary institutions continue to be governed democratically by representatives of graduates, staff, existing students, government representatives and community interests. They will identify how tertiary education needs in each region can best be met and will work with the TEC to consider regional education planning issues.

11. Support the coalition government's six strategic goals to enhance the tertiary education sector and help New Zealand meet future social and economic challenges over the next five years.

12. Involve polytechnics around the country in regional development plans so that regional skill and industry needs can be met effectively. The Polytechnic Regional Economic Development Fund will be co-ordinated with both the Regional Partnership Programme and the Tertiary Education Commission.

13. Support private tertiary courses where the qualification is in the public interest but unavailable through public institutions, for example, where regional development requirements cannot be met publicly or when there are too few places available to meet public demand.

14. Ensure that international students are given support and information about living in New Zealand and dealing with issues such as access to health care, financial security, and student and personal support services. Every institution accepting international students will be required to address pastoral care issues in their charter.

15. Support the successful modern apprenticeship scheme and double to 6,000 the number of apprenticeships available. Key growth areas of the economy where there is currently a skill gap will be targeted and training to meet the needs identified will be included in regional development programmes.

16. Progressively ensure that all school leavers under 20 years old are in work, training or education. Pilot schemes will start in areas of greatest need.

17. Support, develop and promote more industry training, increasing the size of successful schemes. We will expect industry to contribute to training wherever possible and focus on government assistance in key areas where finance is lacking. We will explore all mechanisms the government might use to assist industry to develop effective skills training programmes.

18. Invite employers and unions to co-operate in partnership with TEC, the Ministry of Education, training institutions, and the Maori community, to take an active role in developing tertiary education initiatives, particularly in industry training. We will encourage private firms and government agencies to increase the proportions of their staffs under training.

19. Ensure that all those in training under approved Industry Training Agreements qualify for industry training at proper rates of remuneration.

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