10 Mar 2010

Cutting tertiary courses will hurt Maori - Sharples

2:44 pm on 10 March 2010

The Maori Party is worried the Government's plans to clamp down on tertiary education funding and courses will hurt Maori students hardest.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has signalled that, as part of a review, some of the 6000 qualifications will be scrapped.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says this could mean the end of courses set up to get Maori adults into tertiary education.

He also has concerns about what impact the change in funding for tertiary education institutions might have on wananga.

Dr Sharples, who is also associate education minister, says he had not been consulted before the changes were announced on Tuesday.

He says he will be raising his concerns with Mr Joyce.

Students 'may be shut out'

There's also concern in the tertiary education sector that students who are already disadvantaged will be shut out of courses because of the Government's plan to link some funding to student's performance.

The Government says up to 10% of tertiary funding will be linked to indicators such as students' success in completing courses and qualifications.

The Maori Tertiary Students Association says institutions may see Maori, Pacific Islander and older students as less able and shun enrolling them.

Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says more must be spent on supporting students if pass rates are to be improved.

Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr told Morning Report that if universities are going to be held accountable for their students' performance, those students need to be adequately prepared at secondary school for tertiary study.

He said more than 50 of Canterbury University's staff is involved in pre-degree assistance to students.

The Tertiary Education Union says staff could face pressure to pass students so an institution's funding is not compromised.

It says that may be the additional push some need to leave for better-paid jobs overseas.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce told Morning Report that linking some funding to students' performance will encourage tertiary bodies to monitor their progress through courses and to tailor courses to fit students' aspirations.

Students will also have to show they're making progress, so they don't just stay in a tertiary institute for a number of years, end up with a significant loan and have nothing to show for it.