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Courses To Fit National Qualification - Minister

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

Wellington, March 10 NZPA - A review of New Zealand's 6000 qualifications is likely to see courses change to fit a national qualification but there are no plans to slash the number on offer, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says.

Mr Joyce, in his first speech as Tertiary Education Minister yesterday, said he had three short term goals -- to tackle course completion rates, have qualifications that were meaningful and ensure student support money was not wasted.

The Government wanted to make it far harder to introduce new qualifications and would review existing ones.

Mr Joyce did not think all 6000 qualifications were necessary and said in tourism alone there were 123 different certificate and diploma qualifications.

"You don't want (students) leaving with a certificate or a diploma that employers in different parts of the country don't respect because they don't know it."

This morning Mr Joyce told Radio New Zealand that the idea was not to close down courses.

"You won't see a decline in the total number of courses because of this exercise. What you will see is perhaps a number of institutional qualifications being merged into a national one which everyone recognises."

A website would be set up mid-year showing rates of course and qualification completion, student retention and of student progression to further study, a spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said this morning.

Another change the Government intended to make was to remove automatic access to ongoing interest free loans for students who fail, with continued access linked to academic progress.

"If you are being given a loan by taxpayers, by the country, to advance yourself academically then we would like to see some progress and be assured there is progress going on and you don't just stay in a tertiary institution for a number of years, end up with quite a significant loan, with nothing to show for it," he told Radio New Zealand.

University Students Association co-president David Do said tying loans access to academic progress would be unnecessary and restrictive and work against moves to get more young people, Maori and Pasifika students into higher education.

The Government also intended to tag between 5 and 10 percent of government funding for tertiary providers to student performance and dropout rates.

"The performance-linked funding model will provide financial incentives for institutions to continually work to improve the educational performance of their students," Mr Joyce said.

"Educational performance will be measured using indicators like successful course completion, qualification completion and student progression."

The Education Ministry, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and Mr Joyce were working on how to apply the new requirement.

The proportion of funding affected would be kept low at the start but could increase over time. He told journalists 90 to 95 percent of funding would still be based on enrolments.

Mr Do doubted institutions would put more effort into helping students and less funding would make that harder to achieve.

Labour's Maryan Street said the move would put pressure on teachers to pass students who should fail.

Mr Joyce said course standards would be monitored and the proportion of linked funding was small.

He did not think institutions would bar entry to students more likely to fail than others because funding calculations would take account of different factors.

"Some of it is simply people go to part-time, second chance education and there will be lower/slower completion rates. But you take that into account when you set the guidelines for those institutions but I think TEC is very capable of making those distinctions."

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