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Treasury, Business NZ support education investment

Treasury, Business NZ support education investment

New Zealand now has an opportunity to invest to raise education and training levels, Secretary to the Treasury John Whitehead told last week’s Job Summit.  “In my view investing in these areas may have the best pay-off and there is scope for more flexibility for government and the private sector to work together around this.  His views were echoed by Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly in an opinion piece on the forum aftermath in yesterday’s issue of the Dominion Post.  “There was general agreement that we should use the downturn to upskill our people.  What a great outcome that would be: to emerge into the upturn better skilled than before.  That the Government already plays a large part in tertiary education provision will help us turn this ambition into reality.”  Mr O’Reilly said if taxpayer money was to be channelled into infrastructure projects, it made sense to use some of that money to “train people as we go”.

In its forum comment, the NZVCC has highlighted the universities’ role in educating the vast majority of the professional workforce through research-led teaching.   In a  media release NZVCC chair Professor Roger Field said such professionals had the necessary skills to assist and create innovative enterprises based on the application of research and new knowledge.  “Public investment in key areas of the university system will help to address skill shortages in the professional workforce.  Universities are a vital part of New Zealand’s infrastructure and provide the bulk of its basic research capability. A programme of progressive investment in New Zealand’s eight universities would ensure that the human and intellectual capital contained within the system is fully utilised for the country’s benefit.  Universities not only train the researchers and professionals of the future but are also at the forefront of research commercialisation.  The New Zealand university system represents a tremendous resource for assisting the country out of recession.”

HR awards for Massey Assistant VC

Alan Davis, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (People and Organisational Development) at Massey University, has won the Supreme Award and Overall HR Person of the Year in the Human Resource Institute of New Zealand National Awards for 2008/09.  The awards were announced at a dinner held in the Wellington Town Hall last week.

Australian graduates opt for more study

Many Australian graduates are now choosing further full-time study as the recession bites and employment prospects become more limited, University World News reports.  The trend is revealed in surveys conducted by Graduate Careers Australia with graduates apparently setting out to gain further qualifications to differentiate themselves from others seeking employment.  Some Australian graduates are now working in areas they previously would not have considered as a stop-gap until labour market conditions improve.  This has a knock-on effect as graduate salaries fall relative to average earnings in Australia through graduates taking positions which do not require their level of qualifications.  A survey of graduate employers showed that nearly 70% would consider lowering their 2010 intake of 2009 graduates.

Canadian university infrastructure investments take shape

The 2009 Canadian Budget has indicated that funds for the university and college infrastructure initiative will be managed by Industry Canada which has the mission of growing a competitive, knowledge-based Canadian economy.  In its latest news bulletin, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) says the Budget Implementation Act makes a sum not exceeding C$1 billion available to accelerate repairs and maintenance in post-secondary institutions.  The AUCC understands that the up to C$2 billion for PSE infrastructure promised in the budget will be delivered over two fiscal years.

The AUCC secretariat has sent written advice to Industry Canada on the implementation of the university infrastructure fund.  The paper identified three potential allocation formulas and recommended the establishment of clear federal guidelines on the use of the funds, along with reporting requirements that would be defined broadly to facilitate funding of infrastructure projects that would renew teaching and research facilities.  AUCC also urged an approach which would minimise bureaucracy to ensure timely project approval.

UK university applications rising

UCAS, the United Kingdom central organisation which processes applications for entry to higher education, has released figures that show a continued rise in the number of university applicants.  As at January 15, the date by which applicants should apply to be given equal consideration, there were 464,167 people applying for full-time undergraduate course at UK universities and colleges, a rise of 7.8% or 33,678.  UCAS chief executive Anthony McClaran commented that it was the third year of strong and continuous growth in full-time undergraduate applications.

Across the UK there is a pronounced increase in mature applicants with the 21 to 24 age group showing a rise of 12.9% and an increase of 12.6% from applicants aged 25 or more.  Law remains the top subject choice with nursing degrees entering the “top five” through an increase of 15.8% or 7424 applicants.  Nursing diploma courses saw an increase of 15.1% or 5389 applicants.

International student recruitment continues to rise in the UK with an overall increase of 11.2% from all countries with increases of more than 10% for the Irish Republic, Cyprus, Singapore, France, Greece, Pakistan and India.  China remains the largest source of applicants outside of the EU with 3641, a rise of 7.5%.


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