Quality Tertiary Institutions welcomes Productivity Commission report into tertiary education

Press Release – Quality Tertiary Institutions (QTI)

29 September 2016

For Immediate Release

Quality Tertiary Institutions (Nga Wananga Kounga), a key private tertiary education sector peak body, has welcomed the Productivity Commission’s draft report into new models of tertiary which it called “thoughtful and bold.” QTI strongly supports the proposed move to a more genuinely market-based tertiary education system with a strong focus on students. The report also comprehensively challenges official claims that the current system is ‘high trust/high accountability’ and ‘low compliance’ – in fact, the Commission described Government control as “high-level”, “pervasive” and “stifling innovation.”

QTI Co-Chair Tommy Honey (Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design) said “the key Productivity Commission recommendations are based on three arguments - that the system is overly constrained (and we believe it is), that this is due largely to funding issues (and again QTI agrees), and that removing the brakes on the funding system will result in a more dynamic system (which we also accept). If correct, the ideal outcome would be the tertiary education system picking up to what I call ‘cruising speed’, allowing providers the freedom to get on with meeting student need and innovating far more than we do now.”

QTI Co-Chair Wendy Pyne (Bethlehem Tertiary Institute) applauded the Commission’s recommendations that key Government education agencies, TEC and NZQA, need to stick to timeframes, increase the speed of response and remove unnecessary requirements. “These agencies (rightly) hold providers to account for consistently meeting a large number of deadlines. They should model the behaviour they require from the sector. Improving decision making times and shedding excessive compliance is vital to encouraging innovation and lifting our responsiveness to changing needs and demands,” she said. 

“It was also heartening to see the Productivity Commission demonstrate a solid understanding of the private tertiary sector throughout the report. QTI was pleased to see the specific acknowledgment that many PTEs are not-for-profit organisations, despite the ‘all private providers are profit-driven’ stereotypes seen too often in the media. We have a number of charitable trusts, not-for-profit and even not-for-loss members in our organisation,” Ms Pyne noted.

Mr Honey identified one area that will need more work in the final Productivity Commission report. “We feel the report did not go far enough to address concerns regarding the vice-like settings on funding caps, set allocations and tight fee regulations. These were key issues in the QTI submission and we will be following it up with them. To date, we have found the Commission to be consultative and constructive, and that approach is reflected in the high quality of the valuable draft report. Once again, QTI welcomes this wide-ranging, well-considered and challenging contribution to the critical tertiary education debate.” 

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