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Education standards reach new low

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

23 December 2004

Education standards reach new low

Christchurch Polytech's half-hearted, long-awaited evaluation of the COOL-IT fiasco shows just how low standards in the tertiary education sector have dropped, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

CPIT's report, released today, shows that 40% of the 18,000 students enrolled in the course were prepared to admit they did not participate in, let alone complete, the course. The findings come by way of a telephone survey.

Mr English says a telephone survey 12 months after the event is a ridiculous way of conducting an inquiry into a $15 million scam and it's likely that many students did not move beyond the first of the four components of the course.

"CPIT is relying on a dubious technical definition of student engagement to claim they should pay back funds for only 25% of students when their own inquiries show that 40% did not complete it.

"If 40% of students didn't complete the course, they should pay back 40% of funds to the Tertiary Education Commission."

An earlier evaluation by the Tertiary Education Commission indicated that as many as 97% of students enrolled in the course did not complete it.

"This leaves us in the appalling situation where one of the largest polytechs in the country lacks the ethical judgment to make responsible use of vast quantities of public money and has instead found and exploited every available loophole to avoid being held accountable," says Mr English.

"This case is symbolic of the mess in our tertiary sector.

"Students deserve higher standards in tertiary education and it is the responsibility of the new Minister, Trevor Mallard, to ensure they get them. Instead, he has failed his first test by cobbling together, on the eve of Christmas, a deal that betrays the taxpayer and lets Christchurch Polytech off the hook," says Mr English.

ENDS

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