So Steven Joyce’s big bright idea for tertiary education (which he recently inherited from the hopeless Anne Tolley) is to punish institutions with low pass rates by cutting their funding.
Now, I’m no big city psychologist but I think I can pick how academics will react: ‘hmm, this kid basically gets it I guess, not really up to standard but if I fail them the department will lose funding’. Can’t wait to be looked after by a doctor or a nurse who pipped through because failing them would have meant a cut to the department’s funding.
It’s basically the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. From a minister who obviously doesn’t have a clue or doesn’t care about anything other than cutting cost for the next financial year.
It reflects the typical short-term thinking of the capitalist class and its political party. All they can see is the immediate cost of education, not the future benefits.
There’s a reason we have chronic skill shortages in this country in everything from doctors to nurses to linesmen to engineers. Because the Nats cut university funding and apprenticeships in the 1990s and it took Labour a long time to fix things. We’re basically missing a good part of a generation of skilled people (drowning in BAs and BComs though), and that’s going to be real trouble as the senior workers retire and there’s too few coming up to replace them.
What we do need to do in education is ration on academic potential, not ability to pay. Even with interest-free loans, the cost of tertiary education is prohibitive for the poor.
We should look at the European systems. Limit the number of places for all those essentially useless bachelor’s degree topics, the main point of which seems to be for the student to get a piece of paper saying ‘degree’, not learn anything. Increase the places for areas where we have skills shortages.
Make a number of places (say half) are free to those with the potential (that wouldn’t just be based on marks, you’ve got to allow for the fact that people with more potential get lower marks at low decile schools because of the environment). As for the rest of the places, I wouldn’t object to those people paying a higher share of the cost of their education if they can make the academic grade. The important thing is that you don’t price people with real potential out of tertiary education.
We also need a decent student allowance so students can live above absolute poverty.
The Right love Joyce but if you ask me he’s just a more articulate version of the same foolishness that infects the rest of them. He’s willing to invest billions in motorways that will never realise benefits greater than their costs, yet unwilling to invest in education, which truly is the key to a brighter future.