Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: What do the next few years look like for tertiary education?

Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: What do the next few years look like for tertiary education?

Last updated 7 November 2016
Last updated 11/07/2016

Over the next decade we can expect to see significant changes in the tertiary operating environment. These are the sorts of things you should consider in the development of the strategic element of your plan.

More technology, automation and diversity

The tertiary environment will become increasingly internationally competitive and technology-enabled. Disruptive change could come quickly – for example, if a viable MOOC business model emerges and spreads.

At the same time, the system will need to cater to the needs of an increasingly diverse group of learners: because tertiary education is becoming an entry requirement for larger parts of the labour market; and because New Zealand is becoming more diverse.

Technological change and increasing automation will also mean that workers will need different skills. Technology also allows development of new models of education delivery so that education can be integrated much more seamlessly into everyday life. People in or out of the workforce will need the capacity for ongoing learning and to be able to up-skill or re-skill through the tertiary education system.

The New Zealand Productivity Commission has recently announced an Inquiry into new models of tertiary education. Its terms of reference reflect the increasingly internationally competitive and technology-enabled educational delivery environment that is expected to develop over the next decade. The Commission is due to report on its findings in February 2017, and we would expect this to be considered in future plans.

We’re seeing a drop-off in the number of students at school at the same time that changes in economic conditions mean more young people may choose to go directly from school to work. Tertiary enrolments are already reducing, particularly for those parts of the sector focused on a younger age cohort. This is expected to continue – especially at universities and institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs). We’re forecasting a fairly significant decline in demand for study at degree level and above and flat demand at levels 3–6, to at least 2019.

However, there may be increased opportunities for training in the workplace and for employers to be closely involved. There’s also new flexibility in the system for high-performing providers to grow without having to approach the TEC for more funding, as announced by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment in November 2015.

TEOs will need new business models to reflect the changes

To sustain quality and protect public value in this environment, some of you – especially tertiary education institutions (TEIs) – may need to consider changing your business and delivery models. This might include, for example, trialling very different modes of delivery, investing in new ones and confronting some hard choices (e.g. getting out of non-sustainable areas of provision and partnering or merging with other providers).

We recognise there are upfront costs but uncertain future benefits of making big changes, and you may need to take some calculated risks and make hard decisions. We are committed to supporting you in making necessary changes which ensure the system delivers the tertiary education that New Zealand most needs.

To build a more sustainable system that is more responsive to regional need, we want to take a more systems-wide view and see more collaboration, alliances and partnerships across the system. We want tertiary education organisations (TEOs) to explore different approaches to how they can share resources and work together with schools, communities, and industries to meet regional needs, build stronger pathways from education to employment and support continuous professional and personal development.

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