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English confused again

14 December 2004 Media Statement

English confused again

National Party Education Spokesperson Bill English got his facts wrong again when he suggested that the government spent $1.54 billion on diploma and certificate courses that were not completed, Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey said today.

Bill English was referring to figures in New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector: Profile & Trends 2003, but clearly got confused by the numbers, Steve Maharey said.

"Despite Mr English's claims to the contrary, this report confirms the New Zealand tertiary sector is growing and better serving the needs of the nation, the economy and society," Steve Maharey said.

"Mr English quotes a 70% non-completion rate for students who started diploma and certificate courses in 1999, but fails to point out that more than two-thirds of those students had dropped out by the end of 1999. As I recall that's when his party was last in government.

"He is also confused when he suggests the government spent 70% of the total tertiary education budget on diploma and certificate courses that were not completed. Given that less than half of the funding that goes into tuition subsidies goes to diploma and certificate courses this is a bizarre claim.

"While New Zealand's retention rates compare favourably with other OECD countries, we are striving to do even better. In 2001, we introduced a retention rate requirement on funded courses. If a provider does not meet the 50% annual retention rate for two successive years, the Tertiary Education Commission will look at the contributing factors that led to the poor retention rate, and may withdraw funding for the course.

"Next year the Tertiary Education Commission will trial a new Performance Measure, which focuses on the provider overall performance on three indicators – a learner survey, the course completion rate and the course retention rate.

"Once again Mr English is making ludicrous claims without bothering to check the facts. Clearly the only thing he can be relied upon to do is get it wrong," Steve Maharey said.


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