The Education (Tertiary and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has passed its first reading in Parliament and is before the Education and Science Select Committee for consideration. The bill amends the Education Act 1989.
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, and Employment Paul Goldsmith said the bill will “help the tertiary education system run more efficiently, ensure quality, and provide additional student protection.”
The bill would allow the Minister to increase funding to private institutions creating “a level playing field between providers,” meaning for-profit, independent tertiary education providers would be treated equally with universities, wānanga, and institutes of technology and polytechnics.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) described it as “controversial law that could see funding stripped away from public education and handed to private businesses.”
Private tertiary institutions are currently under the spotlight due to some failing to meet the standards required by NZQA. Linguis, a private institution which had approximately 1000 students, was recently deregistered due to unresolved problems with marking and plagiarism. Another private institution, International Academy of New Zealand, has been forced to sell to avoid deregistration.
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Jonathan Gee told Salient that while the bill had some positive elements, NZUSA are “very concerned about public funding going to for-profit provider[s] who have no responsibility to society.”
The TEU has recommended a complete review of the sector before any proposed reforms are introduced.