Tertiary education review needs to look beyond technology focus



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Universities New Zealand has voiced concern that the current review of New Zealand's tertiary education system has the potential to undermine the quality of teaching and range of programme choices.

The review is being carried out by the New Zealand Productivity Commission over 2016 at the request of Ministers English and Joyce. 

Executive Director of Universities New Zealand Chris Whelan is concerned by the inquiry’s focus on technology. 

“The review is currently trying to find ways that tertiary education could do more to lift national productivity.  It has started by asserting, incorrectly in the case of universities, that tertiary providers are not adopting technology fast enough. But it hasn’t asked; what are the ways that young people learn best?  And how can universities produce the most capable graduates possible?

Whelan says that while technology enriches and supports learning, it is not a replacement for the current system.

“We want to send a clear message to Ministers that New Zealand’s university system is one of the best in the world. New Zealand is unique in having all universities ranked in the top 3 per cent in the world.  Our graduates also enjoy excellent outcomes with the best completion rates, highest employment rates, and lowest levels of underemployment compared with every other country for which we have data.

“And we do this at 70% of the funding per student compared with countries like Australia.

 Whelan says what universities really need from government is future thinking and bold investment in infrastructure.

"What universities don’t need is short-term tinkering and faddist thinking.”


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