1492575806758 - Minister says ‘tensions’ in tertiary education need careful management

Minister says ‘tensions’ in tertiary education need careful management

Changes to tertiary education to prepare people for having multiple jobs through their working lives could be on the cards.

But the minister in charge says he will be cautious in how he approaches the issue,  saying he is a big believer in people studying degrees that give them the ability to adapt.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Paul Goldsmith was in Palmerston North on Wednesday to visit Massey University.

He told Stuff he was generally impressed with what universities offered.

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But new universities in Asia were climbing rankings tables and New Zealand’s tertiary sector needed the right mix of investment and innovation, he said.

The Productivity Commission addressed that in its report on the future of tertiary education, released in March.

Goldsmith has already ruled out one of the commission’s big recommendations, adding interest to student loans, but said there were others the Government was considering. 

The Government wanted school leavers to receive better careers advice, so the Occupation Outlook mobile phone application could be extended. That app is designed to match skills with occupations, and balance likely fees for courses against future incomes and job prospects.

Goldsmith specifically addressed comments made by former Massey University vice-chancellor Steve Maharey, who said tertiary funding was too focused on completing full degrees and not enough towards short courses.

While agreeing there would be benefits from more flexibility around short courses, Goldsmith said there needed to be caution about what they contained.

“If you go back a decade or so, when there was more flexibility, some short courses were of marginal value.

“I did an arts degree, and am a great believer in general degrees that give people core knowledge and the ability to adapt in different situations.”