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Students Worry About Tertiary Changes

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, March 10 NZPA - Students are concerned at plans to link university funding to academic success, University Student Association co-president David Do says.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, in his first speech in the role, told a business audience in Wellington yesterday that he had three short-term goals -- to tackle course completion rates; have qualifications that were meaningful and ensure student support money was not wasted.

Mr Joyce said that the sector's funding needed to be better used because there would be no more coming in the budget.

Between 5 and 10 percent of government funding for tertiary providers would be linked to student performance and dropout rates.

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

Mr Do said Mr Joyce believed that tertiary institutions would provide more support to students, but he doubted this would happen as there was no money to achieve it.

The Education Ministry, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and Mr Joyce are 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. Mr Joyce told journalists 90 to 95 percent of funding would still be based on enrolments.

He said he did not have a general concern about success rates across the sector but there were some other worries.

"As much as possible we don't want people leaving the tertiary education with a significant loan and no qualifications to show for it."

Mr Joyce said the TEC and New Zealand Qualifications Authority would continue to monitor standards and the low level of funding affected was also a protection.

"You wouldn't want to make it anything as draconian as 100 percent pass rates or anything like that," he said.

Mr Joyce also said students would not get automatic access to ongoing interest free loans. New Zealand put a higher proportion of its tertiary education funding into student support than other countries; 42 percent of the $4 billion a year budget compared to 31 percent in Australia and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 19 percent.

He wanted to see continued access to student loans linked to academic progress.

Mr 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.

Most students needed the money to survive and to jeopardise this would be worrying, Mr Do said.

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