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Tertiary Education Strategy misses the mark

Tertiary Education Strategy misses the mark

Students at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) are concerned with the signals coming from Government that excessive student fees could once again be on the agenda, says Rachel Boyack, President of the Student Association of Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology Inc. (SANITI).

The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, released yesterday, states that “The Government is committed to maintaining reasonable fees for students, but will explore ways of giving providers some additional flexibility to raise revenue.”

“Given this comes on the back of funding cuts for Polytechnics, students are concerned this statement opens the door for institutions to look to students to make up their revenue shortfalls,” said Boyack.

“Anne Tolley needs to come clean about her Government’s plan to scrap Fee and Course Cost Maxima and further burden New Zealand’s tertiary students with debt,” Boyack continued.

Students are also worried that institutions may be unfairly penalised for so-called “poor performance” in the areas of retention and completion rates, and that institutions will cut courses that don’t perform financially, but provide an important benefit to the local community.

“We have already witnessed institutions making decisions that affect learners and the community poorly, due to the Government’s narrow focus on ‘education outcomes’,” said Boyack.

“The Supported Training Programme at NMIT for students with Intellectual Disabilities has had places cut from 125 to 50 next year, and courses that were traditionally studied part time, such as the Degree in Visual Arts and Design, have had time limits placed on them, cutting out students who wish to mix study with work and family commitments,” said Boyack.

“Students may complete a course, but not a full programme, yet that learning is not considered valid under the new strategy. However, for the employer who paid for their employee to complete a course as part of an up skilling programme, the completion of that one course may provide huge productivity gains for their business,” added Boyack.

“Once again, we have a narrow vision from this Government about what education is, and the value it adds to learners, their families, their communities and the local economy,” concluded Boyack.


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