Our Views - The Role of Private Tertiary Education
Private tertiary education makes a contribution in almost every sector of New Zealands economy and community and has done so for over 150 years. Their role is simply to serve the needs of students, employers, community groups and the wider public.
PTEs developed rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, shifting from 1-2% of enrolments to 10-15% of enrolments. Many PTEs developed into large, multi-site organisations meeting mainstream education. ITIs members were at the front of that charge, matching high growth with excellent student outcomes.
Many ITI members operate on a similar or larger scale than the public sector in their specialist area, so while they do not have the corporate overheads of a polytechnic, they have more focus on their specialist area.
The government's Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities states that the role of PTEs is to offer niche education and training that augments or complements the provision of the public providers. The government has limited the PTE sector, first implementing a moratorium on new courses or sites, and then replacing it with caps on enrolments. The government has also set tougher standards for the private sector than for the public sector. PTEs have to justify the quality and relevance of every qualification over 2005-07 if they wish to retain their funding, while public providers only face the same rigour for a few courses.
ITI wants to ensure that when our members demonstrate their quality and relevance, they have a chance to grow on the same basis as any other organisation. With every PTE qualification being checked for quality and relevance over 2005-07, the successful providers expect a fair hearing from the government.
By supporting the role of the private sector, New Zealand will benefit from the innovation that diverse providers can produce. While economies of scale are important in some subjects (such as medicine), the value delivered by diversity more than offsets the smaller size of some ITI members. They will continue to focus on innovation and excellence in tertiary education well into the future.