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Tertiary Education Strategy Discussion Document

Tertiary Education Strategy Discussion Document

Questions and Answers

What's the purpose of the document?

The Education Act 1989 (as amended) requires the Minister responsible for Tertiary Education to have in place a tertiary education strategy (TES) and statement of tertiary education priorities (STEP).
• The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is required to give effect to the STEP through the negotiation and approval of tertiary education organisations (TEO) profiles.
• The current TES and STEP expire in 2007
• A discussion document is out for public consultation until October 27 2006
• The next TES and STEP will be published in December 2006
The government is also releasing:
• a report on progress towards achieving the goals of the previous TES
• a report on the outcomes achieved by the tertiary education system, and
• two reports that explore the effectiveness of the current strategy.
These are available at:

What is the link to the tertiary reforms?
The tertiary reforms are about building a funding, planning, monitoring, and quality assurance system that supports TEOs to focus on outcomes. The TES and the STEP set the expectations as to what outcomes the TEOs should focus on and explain how the outcomes are linked to the government's goals of economic transformation, families young and old and national identity.
The TEC will use the STEP in particular to guide its discussions with TEOs in agreeing the new three year funding plans. TEOs will not be funded unless they can demonstrate that they are achieving the outcomes sought. These plans are the new mechanism for ensuring greater quality, relevance and value for money.
The STEP priorities are not an exhaustive list of what the government will fund. The government will continue to fund, within the overall fiscal constraint, quality, relevant education and research. We want to maintain a broad, inclusive tertiary education system that contributes to the economic, cultural and social development of the country.

Why have just four priorities been identified?
This is not an exhaustive list. Remember that these are discussion documents and there will be wide consultation and input before anything is finalised. I now welcome the opportunity for stakeholders across the sector to express their views as this will assist the government in making decisions on which priorities best reflect our goals.

Does the setting of new priorities mean the government is prepared to spend more money to achieve its aims?
This process is simply about setting the direction for tertiary education. Funding issues will be decided as part of the normal budgetary process.

What does this mean for students? Will it ultimately affect courses they can take?
This is an opportunity for students to participate in the setting of priorities for the sector. The process aims to achieve greater quality and relevance and value for money for taxpayers, employers, students and other stakeholders. This is not about reducing access to tertiary education, but ensuring the provision of courses that are of a higher standard and are relevant to the economy's needs.

The current TES includes a number of references to the Treaty of Waitangi, why doesn’t the discussion document?
The TES and STEP are framed around the government’s goals of economic transformation, families young and old and national identity. The TES and STEP are about setting clear expectations of how the tertiary system will contribute to these goals. The Treaty of Waitangi is an integral part of how the tertiary education system works. It can be seen in the on-going support for kaupapa Maori education at wananga and other tertiary education organisations and in the specific relationships between iwi and TEOs.

Why aren’t there specific targets?
We want to sharpen the focus and be clearer about the shifts that we expect in the tertiary education system. Targets can provide a mechanism to achieve this. To be effective however, targets need to be carefully designed. We have not suggested specific targets in the discussion document; rather we indicate areas where we want to see improvement (e.g. increasing the number of New Zealander’s achieving at level 4 and above before the age of 25).

Don’t the TES and STEP add to the compliance requirements on the sector alongside charters and profiles?
The government is mindful of compliance costs and seeks to reduce these wherever possible. Under the process guiding the new tertiary framework consideration will be given to whether legislative requirements need to be updated.


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