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Dr Andrew West: A New Tertiary Landscape

Dr Andrew West
- A New Tertiary Landscape Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
- A warm welcome to the launch of the Tertiary Education Commission, Te Amorangi Matauranga Matua.
- A special welcome to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Helen Clark, the Hon Steve Maharey, Associate Minister of Education, my fellow Commissioners and Commission general manager Ann Clark.
- It is especially pleasing to see the breadth of the tertiary education sector represented here in this room. Today marks the beginning of an exciting new era for tertiary education. The launch of the Commission signals a fresh commitment to equipping all New Zealanders with the skills and knowledge they will need for life in the 21st century.
- The Commission is a new crown entity responsible for:
- implementing the Government’s tertiary education strategy and statement of tertiary education priorities allocating nearly $2 billion of tertiary funds and building the capacity of the sector to contribute to national economic and social goals.
For the first time ever, all aspects of tertiary education are being brought under the one umbrella, from full-time academic study to on-job and work-related training; from tertiary research and development to foundation education, and including distance education and part-time study.

Because of this breadth, the Commission will work closely with universities, polytechnics, wananga, colleges of education, private training establishments, industry training organisations and adult and community educators.

The tertiary education sector has grown enormously over the last decade and there is now a great diversity of learning pathways available to learners. The challenge now is to take a big step forward in facing up to New Zealand’s knowledge future.

New Zealand operates in a global market and our future will be largely determined by our ability to create and apply knowledge in the context of that market. We must constantly think in innovative ways. A future-focused and invigorated tertiary education sector is crucial to achieving this.

Creating and applying knowledge is becoming the lifeblood of the society and economy and the key to social development and economic growth.

There are a number of powerful external forces which have made this change inevitable.

We’re seeing technology advance at a phenomenal pace with major implications for skill requirements in existing jobs and in new and emerging industries.

Globalisation means we’re part of a globally dynamic labour market. With more open and competitive labour markets, increased migration flows and more open and competitive education and research markets, New Zealanders must share with and at times compete against the whole world.

Here in New Zealand, we have a rapidly changing demography. There are going to be major increases in the numbers of Maori and Pasifika peoples in our population, as well as increasing numbers of elderly people and migrants. Our population will also be increasingly concentrated from Waikato northwards.

We must respond to these trends by creating a knowledgeable society which recognises and values our unique history, culture and environment. The Government has set a clear vision for what needs to happen. New Zealand must become:

a birthplace of world-changing people and ideas a land where diversity is valued and reflected in our national identity a great place to live, work, learn and do business, and a place where people invest in the future.

The Government’s blueprint for achieving this vision is the Tertiary Education Strategy. This sets out ambitious five year goals across six key areas of development for tertiary education. The Commission’s job is to oversee this strategy and work in partnership with the sector to achieve these goals.

Our Maori name Te Amorangi Matauranga Matua means in English, ‘leaders of higher education’ and that’s what we intend to be.

Our logo which you can see behind me is a graphic expression of connections, partnerships and linkages and that’s how we intend to work.

Our mission is to inspire excellence, demand relevance and improve access. And that’s where our focus will be.

We’ll be looking to raise the capacity and performance of the sector as a whole, including research and scholarship.

We’ll be working with the sector to achieve greater alignment with national goals, both social and economic

We’ll be looking for explicit gains in Maori and Pasifika development and for much stronger links between the world of learning and the world of business.

And finally, there will be a strong focus on giving New Zealanders the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to keep learning and participate in our Knowledge society and economy.

Our mission is nothing less than to oversee the evolution of a new tertiary landscape in New Zealand. One where all educators, trainers and stakeholders have a shared sense of strategic direction and purpose. Where there are learning pathways for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Where there is no compromise on relevance, where access is enhanced, and where excellence and quality are recognised and rewarded.

A team of eight commissioners, representing the broad span of tertiary provision, has the key role in fostering partnerships with stakeholders. I’d like to take this opportunity now to introduce the commissioners to you.

The Commission’s deputy chair is Kaye Turner. Kaye has substantial experience in tertiary sector management and was formerly deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Waikato.

John Blakey, chief executive of the Forest industries Training Organisation, brings a strong industry perspective to the Commission.

Shona Butterfield is chief executive of the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand’s largest provider of distance education programmes.

Jim Donovan is managing director of Isambard Limited, an investment company.

Andrew Little is the national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, New Zealand’s largest Union.

Tina Olsen-Ratana is the manager of Te Kokiri Marae in Lower Hutt which provides kaupapa Maori education at all levels from Te Kohanga Reo through to tertiary-level training.

Dr Ian Smith is deputy vice-chancellor (research and international) at the University of Otago and formerly ran a large private-sector research laboratory.

Finally, I’d also like to introduce to you the Commission’s general manager, Ann Clark. We’re fortunate to have someone with Ann’s experience in public sector management. Over the last decade Ann has had a range of senior management roles in New Zealand in areas such as community development and corrections. I have every confidence that she will lead an organisation that has the capacity to rise to the challenge.

There is a lot at stake in this endeavour. Social development, economic transformation, meeting Maori development aspirations, improving Pacific peoples’ opportunities, and lifting the capacity of individuals to play a part in their community and society. Nothing less than transforming the fabric of our nation into a modern, vibrant knowledge society.

There is a Maori proverb that is very apt for this occasion:

“E ai o harirau, he rere mai.”

You have the wings to fly here or put another way You will get there if you really try, because now you have the means.

I believe that the Commission, the tertiary strategy and the strong bonds between us, will give us the wings to fly.

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