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Groundhog Day for tertiary sector

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman

29 November 2005

Groundhog Day for tertiary sector

Despite six years of thinking about it and more than $500 million spent on it, Michael Cullen’s plans for tertiary education are depressingly familiar, says National Party Education spokesman Bill English.

“This is a case of a new minister saying the same things about the same problems, which will lead to the same results.

“Even Dr Cullen sounds tired at the prospect of having to go through it all again. He told university staff today ‘I don’t have much to say at the moment regarding what specific alternatives are available’.

“That won’t come as a surprise to anyone because Dr Cullen is using the same meaningless jargon as Steve Maharey did three years ago when the mess in the sector was first exposed.”

The challenge now is to ensure we have a cohesive and innovative system that encourages learning and uses resources strategically. It is very important to ensure that our research efforts and our student enrolments are concentrated in areas of high performance and high strategic relevance. –Steve Maharey, 23 February 2003

To sum up, our conviction as a government is that we can and must create a tertiary sector that, without exception, provides education that is high quality in terms of international benchmarks and the expectations of learners and employers, and highly relevant to the skills needed to face the economic and social challenges that New Zealand faces. – Michael Cullen, 29 November 2005

“So, after spending more than $500 million trying to change the system, nothing has changed, and nothing ever will under Labour,” says Mr English.

“It’s Groundhog Day for tertiary education.

“The waffley words of another Labour Tertiary Education Minister are meaningless while 70% of students who enroll in a diploma never complete it.

“Polytechnics in particular are drowning in a toxic mix of low-quality courses, growing deficits, debt and terrible Government policy.

“Expectations for Dr Cullen were high but he sounds just like his two failed predecessors –Steve Maharey and Trevor Mallard,” says Mr English.

ENDS

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