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Govt announces tertiary overhaul

Published: 6:06PM Monday July 18, 2005 Source: One News/RNZ

The government has announced an overhaul of tertiary education in the wake of funding blowouts on courses considered to be of low educational value.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard says funding will be shifted from low quality programmes, such as twilight golfing, into areas like apprenticeship training and adult education.

The crackdown comes after embarrassment over low quality courses. In some case polytechs simply signed up students and received public funding regardless of the quality of their training.

"People were encouraged to get as many backsides on seats or listening to the radio or swinging golf clubs or whatever as they could," says Mallard.

More than $160 million will be stripped from low level courses and will go into a new fund which is to help pull polytechnics and wananga into line with the government's priorities.

Mallard says the new fund of about $178 million will help polytechs whose viability is threatened as a result of the shake-up in the sector.

He says the move will ensure new programmes and qualifications are properly vetted before they get funding and before students enrol.

Figures released by Mallard on Monday show there has been an explosion of courses below degree level.

Since 2000 student numbers at certificate and diploma level more than doubled, up 116%, community education and polytechs and wananga are up by more than 500%, while numbers of students studying for degrees increased just 6%.

The polytechs say those who will lose money are those offering a lot of adult and community education.

Aoraki in Timaru, Tarawhiti in Gisborne and Manukau and Northland polytechs are expected to be hardest hit - although they may gain money back from the reinvestment fund.

The changes will cut in at at the beginning of next year.

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