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Proposals to ditch 'open entry' questioned

Proposals to ditch 'open entry' questioned by Maori Party

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Wednesday 5 December 2007

The Maori Party believes that the proposal from the University of Auckland to abandon their open entry policy, and the suggestion from Victoria University that they also consider capping entry to some courses, represents a real threat to Maori tertiary education.

"What all the stats tell us is that degree level participation by Maori is low and has even decreased recently" said Dr Pita Sharples, Tertiary Education spokesperson for the Maori Party.

"In fact, Ka Hikitia, the Government's Draft Maori Education Strategy specifically promotes the need to increase the number of Maori entering into and completing degree level qualifications, both as school leavers and adult learners" said Dr Sharples.

"Cutting off access to under-graduate courses flies in the face of both community demand and current 'government-speak'" said Dr Sharples.

"The Maori Party has consistently promoted the need to increase system performance for Maori in order to ensure equitable outcomes" said Dr Sharples.

"Tangata whenua have long recognised that our three whare wananga are constantly out-performing universities on educational outcome data - participation, retention and completion rates" said Dr Sharples.

"And yet current data reports that most Maori taking up degrees, do so at universities (63%)" said Dr Sharples. "The problem is that there are low completion rates for Maori undertaking their degrees in university settings - so the question must be asked as to why?"

"Most Maori enrol in the field of 'society and culture' for their tertiary study (40%) - and so there are obvious concerns around restricted entry for degrees in arts, education, theology and law are all areas where Maori are likely to be affected".

"We would urge institutions to look carefully at the participation patterns and experience of Maori in tertiary education, before they instigate radical new moves such as we are hearing about in Auckland and Wellington".

"It's clear that government and universities need to work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for Maori students" said Dr Sharples.

"The concerns of Maori need to be taken seriously here. We were pleased to hear Auckland University Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, express his commitment towards the university meeting its equity objectives for students from under-represented groups" said Dr Sharples.

"We will be watching very carefully to ensure that Mr McCutcheon honours his commitment to create assessment criteria which are fair and equitable" said Dr Sharples.

ENDS

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