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Position paper: retain university QA arrangements



NZVCC Electronic News Bulletin   Vol. 6 No. 23     20 December 2006



Lead item …


Position paper: retain university QA arrangements


An NZVVC position paper on the reform of quality assurance and monitoring in the tertiary education system recommends that current quality assurance arrangements for universities should be retained and enhanced.  This particularly applies to any legislative change affecting the roles of the Committee, the NZ Qualifications Authority and Tertiary Education Commission.  Currently, section 260 of the Education Act 1989 states that NZQA’s quality assurance powers in relation to universities are exercisable by the NZVCC in lieu of the Authority.  However, the paper further recommends that the NZVCC be given authority in its own right for the approval and moderation of courses, and to set the criteria for approval and moderation of qualifications.


The paper also asks for a working party to be established to make recommendations on performance indicators for the university sector and that TEC and the NZVCC develop ways to work co-operatively on areas for priority setting in the universities.


Academic audit is the other aspect of current quality assurance arrangements affecting all eight New Zealand universities.  The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit (NZUAAU), established by the NZVCC, is an independent body, the chief function of which is to support New Zealand universities in their continuing achievement of standards of excellence in their academic responsibilities in research and teaching.

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A Cabinet paper on quality assurance and monitoring, prepared to inform the tertiary education reform process, proposes to bring these two roles together at national level.  The NZVCC position established in response to that document is summarised as follows:


“The current processes for academic quality assurance in the universities are robust and designed to ensure that standards are comparable with those in other respected university systems around the world. The criteria for recognition as a university in New Zealand are more rigorous than those pertaining in most jurisdictions and the processes for course approval, professional accreditation and institutional academic audit all combine to ensure that standards are maintained and enhanced in a culture of continuous improvement.  NZVCC is working closely with TEC on ways to monitor the performance of universities.”


The NZVCC position on the reform of quality assurance and monitoring in the tertiary education system is available from “What’s New” on the home page of the NZVCC website:


Auckland, Otago universities welcome medical/dental funding boost


New funding rates for undergraduate medicine and dentistry education and training have been welcomed by both Auckland and Otago universities, the two institutions affected.  The additional funding announced by Tertiary Education Minister Dr Michael Cullen amounts to $24.6 million a year.  In 2007 the new funding rates will be between $32,458 and $38,283 per equivalent full-time student (EFTS) for medicine, and $46,427 per EFTS for dentistry.  This represents an increase over current funding rates of $13,566 for medicine and $14,353 for dentistry, with all amounts GST exclusive. 


Otago’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) Professor Don Robertson said the funding boost had assisted the future of world-class medical and dental education in this country.  “It not only meets current requirements but also enables the future development of health professional training.”  The University of Auckland media release on the funding announcement said the extra funds would ensure the institution could continue to offer the best available training for aspiring medical practitioners.  Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon commented: “New Zealand universities’ medical programmes are accredited to Australian standards and we’re pleased the Government has recognised the enhanced investment required to keep up with those standards.”


The need for additional funding was identified in a recent review of undergraduate medicine and dentistry education carried out by TEC and the Ministry of Education.


KiwiSaver tax exemption extended


The Government has announced that the tax exemption for employer contributions to KiwiSaver will be extended to other registered superannuation schemes, such as the NZ Universities Superannuation Scheme.  Employers currently pay SSCWT – specified superannuation contribution withholding tax – on their contributions to registered superannuation schemes, although contributions to KiwiSaver schemes were exempted under legislation enacted in September. Under the changes, employer contributions to other registered schemes will be exempt from tax for amounts of up to 4 percent of an employee's gross salary. A tax-free employer contribution will mean, for example, an extra $660 a year in savings for people earning $50,000 a year who contribute 4% of their salary and whose employers contribute another 4%.  The extended exemption will apply from 1 July 2007, when KiwiSaver begins.


CUAP decision supported


The NZVCC has agreed that the recent decision taken by its Committee on University Academic Programmes to approve the degree of Bachelor of Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington was properly taken within the terms of reference.  CUAP’s approval was referred to the NZVCC on the procedural grounds that consultation with the professional body, IPENZ, had not met CUAP’s requirements.  NZVCC found that although there was some ambiguity in the statement of what was required, since corrected, the consultation met the requirement.


Export education levy unchanged


The Government has announced that there will be no change in the export education levy rate for next year.  Paid by all providers involved in the education export industry, the levy is administered by the Ministry of Education and supports such activities as the promotion of this country as a quality education destination.  It also provides core funding for Education New Zealand, the umbrella body for education exporters.  The levy has not increased for 2007 as the Export Education Levy Trust account has a balance of $3.3 million after several operating surpluses. The surplus is projected to decline due to planned investment in industry promotion and marketing.


NZVCC leadership arrangements


University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Sharp will continue as NZVCC chair in 2007, the second year of his two-year term.  The Committee’s deputy chair next year will be Lincoln Vice-Chancellor Professor Roger Field, the current chair of CUAP.  Professor Field will continue in the latter role until mid 2007.


New chair for Chancellors


Dr Robin Mann, Chancellor of the University of Canterbury, has been appointed as chair of the Chancellors’ Group for a two-year term from the start of 2007.


NZUAAU board appointments


The NZVCC has made a number of appointments to the board of the NZ Universities’ Academic Audit Unit.  Dr Tony Baird has been reappointed as the board member nominated by the professions for a three-year term commencing on 1 January 2007.  He has also been appointed as the board’s deputy chair.  Mr Joseph Randall has been confirmed as the student representative on the board next year while Professor Roy Sharp has been reappointed as the NZVCC board member.  Finally, Ms Heather Baigent has been appointed to the board for a three-year term commencing 1 January 2007, as a person with expertise in quality assurance drawn from the wider community.


New chair for Standing Committee on Graduate Employment


Associate Professor Richard Coll of the University of Waikato has been appointed as chair of the NZVCC Standing Committee on Graduate Employment for a three-year term, commencing 1 January 2007.  He replaces Dr Ian McDonald, head of Otago University’s computer science department, whose long service in the role was acknowledged at the recent SCGE annual meeting.



The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee Electronic News Bulletin is produced every second Tuesday and distributed to parties with an interest in the Committee’s affairs.  Back issues are archived on the NZVCC website:





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