Universities New Zealand– Te Pōkai Tara welcomes the release of the Tertiary Education Strategy (2014-2019) and will work closely with Government to achieve key goals such as boosting student achievement, occupational skills and economic growth.
Universities NZ Chair Professor Roy Crawford says that the Government’s Strategy reflects the feedback it received from the tertiary education sector and universities will be working collaboratively with Government to make an optimal contribution to New Zealand’s development.
“The Strategy would have benefitted from a greater recognition of the breadth and contribution of university teaching and research activities to achieving longer term national outcomes, rather than being too focussed on short-term economic goals. The critic and conscience role of universities is invaluable, cultivating knowledge and the debate needed to navigate complex societal issues.
“Our universities are keen to contribute to the Strategy’s goals to better respond to the needs of students, the economy and the wider community. We look forward to continuing to meet these challenges.”
Professor Crawford says that universities are helping to meet the growing demand for highly skilled jobs by developing work-ready graduates with both occupation specific and generic skills.
“Universities help to bridge skills shortages in areas such as engineering and ICT as well as developing the transferable skills sought by employers such as critical thinking, leadership and communication.”
“Our graduates contribute to innovation and productivity to advance business and industry. They also drive and facilitate the discussion and debate needed to address a range of challenges our society faces such as climate change, inequality, multiculturalism, and obesity. The broad range of subjects taught at university, including the arts and humanities, all have input into building a stronger economy and society.”
Universities are pivotal to New Zealand’s science and innovation and Universities NZ is pleased that the Strategy focuses on strengthening research.
“Our universities have been proactive in forming research linkages and collaborative ventures with research providers and industry both within New Zealand and internationally,” says Professor Crawford.
“The Strategy seeks more business led research for which the universities have a strong track record. The biennial R & D survey by Statistics New Zealand shows that from 2004 to 2012 this research rose from a third of total university research to over a half.”
“Commercial research is crucial for our economy but we should not lose sight of the value of other research universities do leading to advances in areas such as social policy, the environment and health.”
Universities NZ endorses the Strategy’s goal to further boost the achievement of Māori and Pasifika in tertiary education.
“Universities provide outreach programmes, targeting Māori students from Years 10 to 13 to raise awareness of university education and career options. They also offer mentoring programmes and other services to support students, especially in their first year of study. “
“We must continue to build on the progress made and our success will largely depend on a whole-of-system approach across the education sector. We applaud the Government’s moves to improve secondary school performance through greater investment in teachers.”
The universities also share the Government’s aim to grow international education.
“We perform very well in this space, with the fourth largest proportion of international students in the world. We support increasing international student numbers, but in a measured way that does not compromise the quality of the learning, and support services, we provide to all our students.”