David Clendon

NZ Universities being left behind

by David Clendon

The latest annual QS World University Rankings were released today with some bad news for New Zealand. The top six universities in New Zealand have all slipped down the rankings compared with last year:

University 2012 Report 2013 Report
University of Auckland 83rd 94th
University of Otago 133rd 155th
University of Canterbury 221st 238th
Victoria University 237th 265th
Massey University 308th 343rd
University of Waikato 374th In range 401-410
Auckland University of Technology In range 451-500 In range 471-480
Lincoln University n/a In range 481-490

The rankings reflect academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international students and international faculty. It covers a total of 800 universities from 76 countries.

The Head of Research of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) who produce the rankings, said that:

“New Zealand’s universities have collectively seen a drop in academic reputation, faculty student ratio and international students in this year’s results. With tuition fee hikes and student debt becoming a growing concern for both students and the New Zealand Government, the decline in affordable publicly funded education means many students risk being priced out of a world-class education”

This is a sorry state of affairs and the Government needs to step up and acknowledge that their policies are hurting our tertiary sector.

This National Government has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from tertiary education in the last five years.

We’re seeing trends of the ‘casualisation’ of academic staffing, staff struggling with the burden of the PBRF model and limited resources for academics. It is no wonder that the student experience and the quality of educational outcomes are suffering.

Tertiary Education Union vice-president Sandra Grey also lays the blame for this result squarely with the Government:

“We are moving in the wrong direction. New Zealand academics are highly regarded, and are involved in world class research and teaching. But falling government funding means they face larger lectures and tutorials, more administrative workload that takes time away from research and teach, and stagnant pay”.

A vibrant tertiary sector is vital for the social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing of New Zealand. This sector deserves more than what this Government has to offer.

A good first step would be for Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce to start listening carefully and responding to the legitimate concerns of university staff and management, rather than treating them as part of the problem.

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare by David Clendon on Wed, September 11th, 2013   

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