Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The narrow door to education: getting entrance to university just got harder

One of the things that affects student achievement is how the government funds students and tertiary institutions.
The Government has a Tertiary Education Strategy which has a vision for a "world-leading education system that equips all New Zealanders with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful citizens in the 21st century."

Yet the vision does not meet the strategy; and the world leading education system is not financially equipped to meet the vision. The focus of the strategy is on those 25 and under that want to study full time to achieve a university degree. If you want to study part time, or extramurally while working, you don't fit, especially if you are over 25. The strategy notes that funding for tertiary institutions,will, in future, be linked to post-study employment and that a " wide range of students" should be successfully completing university degrees.

The strategy indicates that the Government wants to see more students enrolling, and finishing their degrees more quickly.But while most will have university entrance, many won't be able to enter university, despite the strategy concluding that " the tertiary education system needs to ensure it can meet the educational needs of an increasingly diverse population".

The Tertiary Education strategy says that student choice will be a driving factor in tertiary education provision. Some students want to be able to take some summer school papers - but if you want to do that at Massey University you can't, as enrolments were closed off last week with no warning to prospective students. This is not because the Government is not funding students - indeed, most summer school students won't be eligible for student allowances or student loans for living costs - it is because the Government has funded Massey for a certain number of effective full time students, and these students are now enrolled.

Last year Auckland University turned away 1100 students, and this year the number was almost 2000. Next year, both Victoria University and Massey University will join Auckland in introducing ranking systems for entrants under 20, meaning half of all enrolment places at New Zealand universities will be subject to competitive entry criteria. It is the single biggest change to our tertiary system since the introduction of student fees in 1990, and one that has happened so quickly that it has almost totally bypassed the public radar. Some fear it signals an end to open access education in New Zealand, and a move towards the kind of elitism New Zealanders have always liked to believe happened somewhere else.

That last paragraph was from an article from Matt Russell on capping enrolments in our universities for the Massey student mag Off Campus - but this new form of university capping does not happen at graduation, and is not just happening at Massey, it's happening nationwide.

The whole article is worth a read.




Anonymous Karl said...

I actually think this is a step in the right direction for tertiary education in New Zealand. When I tell people overseas that in NZ you only need 1 C and 3 D's to enter university they think that I'm talking about the lowest marks (and considering many countries have ten exams at high school graduation, it can seem like I'm saying 6 A's is enough. Also in many countries a C is around 70% and a D around 60%, so further clarification is needed as to how low the university entrance criteria in NZ actually are.

The net results of such a low entrance criteria and the previous system of funding based on student numbers meant that many students were accepted to university courses they were hopelessly inadequate to complete. And all of this to the detriment of those who would benefit most from a university education.

Now I understand that most of the questions you are raising are to do with how this affects mature students, but there is a much larger problem that needs to be dealt with concerning the 90% of university students who enter straight from school

July 26, 2010 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Swimming said...

90% of uni students dont enter straight from school. Perhaps 90% of those under 20 may well do... Besides, when making policy you take into account the many, not the few.

July 26, 2010 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger SLR said...

Mi no lob scoro!!

July 26, 2010 at 10:01 PM  

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