Minister for Tertiary Education Michael Cullen has released a discussion document relating to the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) for public consultation.
The Education Act 1989 requires the Minister for Tertiary Education to release such a document in preparation for the TES and the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP). The existing TES and STEP expire this year.
The TES is a document that outlines the Government’s goals and priorities for the New Zealand tertiary education system. According to Dr. Cullen it is the “reference point for government policy-making, investment decisions and relationships with the sector”.
The discussion document highlights increasing skills and qualification attainment, improving productivity, and boosting the contribution of the tertiary sector to the transformation of the New Zealand economy as current focuses. It also expresses the sector’s intention to make a strong contribution to families, communities, and broader social and cultural goals.
Asked if he was making a submission, co-president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Joey Randall responded with an emphatic “yes”. “This is basically a core part of the tertiary system for the next five years.
This thing’s actually what’s going to be driving the boat and where it’s going. Our focus is on a fairer, more equitable and accessible tertiary education system, so we’ll focus around funding, fees and equity programmes and support.” Association of University Staff (AUS) policy analyst Rebecca Matthews says that AUS also intends to make a submission, although they’re “still formulating a position”.
Matthews also says that the focus of the current document is “too narrow”. “Obviously the economic goals are important, but there’s also things that the wider society might be concerned about”, she says.
After the consultation deadline of Friday, October 27, the Ministry of Education will publish both the Tertiary Education Strategy 2007/12 and the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities 2008/10 in December this year. The document can be downloaded from the Ministry of Education website: www.minedu.govt.nz