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Preparing Tertiary Education For The Future

The Government will set up the Higher Learning Sector Taskforce to map a strategic vision for our tertiary education sector, Minister for Tertiary Education Max Bradford said today.

He also announced a second Enterprise Education Taskforce would be established to determine ways to increase industry training and build closer links between employers and teriary education providers.

Mr Bradford said the Higher Learning Sector Taskforce would revisit aspects of the Tertiary White Paper and develop a widely accepted strategic vision for the future of the tertiary sector.

The quality assurance and governance proposals in the white paper would proceed as planned, but feedback from the 5 Steps Ahead forums held around the country had highlighted the need to place tertiary education decisions into a wider context, he said.

"For example, the forums highlighted the need for a more strategic approach to research in the tertiary sector, Crown Research Institutes and the business sector.

"Questions were raised as to how the relationships between tertiary providers and employers could be strengthened and how students could be encouraged to undertake study in areas that are important to the future economic and social development of New Zealand.

"Secondly, feedback in response to the White Paper raised broader questions about the nature of the relationship between the Crown and tertiary providers. The Government thinks these should be addressed," Mr Bradford said.

The Higher Learning Sector Taskforce will consist of 5-6 highly capable individuals, supported by the Ministry of Education and other Government departments.

It will consult widely and consider issues relating to:

 Tertiary sector responsiveness,
 The appropriate structure of universities and polytechnics needed to get a world class tertiary sector, including the role of research and teaching universities,
 The appropriate research funding structures for the tertiary sector,
 The role and relationship between institutions and the Government,
 Current funding and ownership structures,
 Relationships with key sectors and stakeholders, e.g Maori.

The Taskforce will report to the Government by June 30, 2000.

Mr Bradford said the Enterprise Education Taskforce would also report to the Government by June 30, 2000.

"The Government aims to build the capability of our workforce. We will refocus enterprise education to make sure it meets the needs of industry.

"In future, New Zealanders will need to constantly upgrade their skills. And while the responsibility for skills development rests with both employers and employees, the Taskforce will consider the best way for the Government to assist," he said.

The Taskforce will determine the most effective and efficient way of:

 Building a learning culture across all New Zealand business enterprises,
 Improving the responsiveness of all tertiary education providers to enterprise education needs,
 Ensuring employers and employees have access to the training they need,
 Encouraging employers to invest in staff training.

Mr Bradford indicated that he would be consulting on the draft terms of reference and membership of the Taskforces and secretariats before the Government made final decisions and announcements.

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