New Models of Tertiary Education Report

March 21, 2017 11:00 pm
In March 2017, the Productivity Commission released a report recommending a number of changes to the way the Government funds and delivers Tertiary Education in New Zealand. RWNZ asked members for their feedback on the Productivity Commission’s Report, to inform on our submission to the Commission.
It was disappointing to see that the otherwise excellent report of the Productivity Commission largely bypassed the rural sector, as it is a unique sector with its own challenges.
Without these issues being specifically highlighted in the report, it is unlikely they will be directly addressed in any actions taken by government as a result of the report. Not only are the challenges faced by rural people of all ages seeking tertiary education likely to not be improved, their ability to access tertiary education could be reduced due to unforeseen consequences of changes made, albeit with the best intentions, that have not been rural-proofed. It was largely evident from the outset, and in the wording of the Scope, that the rural sector was not identified as a “priority group.” Where the report provided graphical and statistical information, the categories were either gender based, age based or with Māori/Pasifika, and in some cases Asian, identified as unique categories. Again, it has been identified that the rural sector is not being recognised.
Also concerning, is the perception that in general access to affordable, fast, reliable broadband has been assumed to be available to all learners. If so, then those on the wrong side of the “digital divide” will be further disadvantaged. The 527-page report from the Commission focused heavily on the way education is funded and the constraints and barriers resulting from that. The
benefits of access to quality tertiary education and the wide range of courses, included ACE funded courses, which categorised tertiary education, were also well covered in the report.
RWNZ’s submission with respect to the low number of students graduating with degrees in agricultural based subjects and the mismatch with the demand for skilled workers in primary production,
was also commented on in the report. The recommendations generally were ones that should have a positive impact on access to education, although how much, if at all, the rural sector would
benefit is unknown. This information needs to be specially addressed. In conclusion, RWNZ welcomes the report, and believes some very sensible recommendations were made. It is hoped that some of the proposals that are being considered will first be rural proofed so that impact can be measured. RWNZ would be happy to input into this process.

The Productivity Commission report is here: New models of tertiary education – the final report on the Commission’s tertiary education inquiry.


In November 2015, the Government asked the Productivity Commission to examine how well New Zealand’s tertiary education system is set up to respond to, and take advantage of, trends in technology, internationalisation, demographics, tuition costs and demand for skills. We were also asked to identify potential barriers to innovation.

The Commission’s report and its package of recommendations seek to give providers the scope to innovate in the delivery of tertiary education, and incentives to do so.
Key recommendations include:

  • better quality control and self-accreditation for strong performers;
  • strengthening the role of student demand in allocating funding to providers;
  • making it easier for students to transfer between courses;
  • abolishing University Entrance;
  • better careers education for young people;
  • enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets;
  • making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and
  • facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers.

Rural Women New Zealand published a submission for the Commission to consider in November 2016. Click here to download the Submission.

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