Editorials 12 March 2010

March 12th, 2010 at 2:12 pm by David Farrar

The Herald talks government funding cuts:

Predictably enough, Labour has tried to make a mountain out of the Government’s announcement of funding cuts in the Education Ministry. According to its education spokesman, Trevor Mallard, these will harm education quality because there will be less research and less teacher and curriculum development.

In reality, he is talking about a molehill. The ministry has been asked to make just $25 million in savings by 2012-13. That is a surprisingly small amount, which is being sought in the right area, rather than at what used to be called the chalkface.

All government-funded organisations are being told to cut costs because of the tough economic climate. Cue cries of anguish and alarm.

The key to achieving the savings without fulfilling the grim forecasts of these critics lies in targeting areas that will not disrupt a sector’s core responsibilities. Commendably, this is what the Government is seeking to achieve in both education and health, two of the leading recipients of its spending.

Labour has never met a spending cut they didn’t oppose.

The Dominion Post swipes at :

The University Students Association is to be applauded for its egalitarian instincts. They accord with the New Zealand ethos.

However, the association, long a training ground for Labour Party apparatchiks, would enhance its credibility if it spent less time bleating about the cost of university studies and more focusing on the quality of the education on offer.

It makes a habit of engaging its mouth before its brain. The most recent instance occurred on Tuesday when co-presidents David Do and Pene Delaney issued a statement condemning new Minister Steven Joyce, the Government’s tyre-kicker-in-chief, for saying that from 2012 a percentage of the state funding provided to tertiary institutions will be linked to their academic performance and for adding that he’d also like to restrict student loans to students who pass their courses.

David Do is a former Chair of Princes St Labour.

Here is a newsflash for the association: the quality of the education available to its members, and students at other tertiary institutions, has gradually been eroded over the past couple of decades by underfunding and a bums-on seats-policy that rewards institutions according to the number of students enrolled rather than their performance.

The Government does not have a magic pool of money into which it can dip to make up the shortfall. It is effectively borrowing $200 million a week to maintain existing levels of public services, debt that will eventually have to be made good by the the association’s members and generations yet unborn.

If improvements are to be made to the system, the money has to come from within the existing tertiary education budget. Mr Joyce is doing exactly what the association should be imploring him to do – looking for poor-quality institutions and courses so that money can be redirected from them to institutions and courses that provide value for money.

He is proposing to do the same with students. Good on him. Every student who is not turning up to class, repeatedly failing or using a student allowance or loan to subsidise a lifestyle that has nothing to do with study is wasting money that could otherwise be used to provide a better education for students motivated to make the most of their opportunities.

The association should forget about trying to score political points and focus on advancing its members’ real interests. Students should ask themselves whether they would rather buy a clapped-out jalopy with a wound-back odometer for $25,000 or a modern, reliable warranted vehicle for $35,000.

Mr Joyce knows the answer to that question. It is to buy a quality vehicle that will stand the test of time. The same holds true for education. Forget cheap; think quality.

A wonderful editorial.

The Press talks immigration:

Graven on a tablet within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York is the poem with the famous words “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses”. The latest policy development in New Zealand is somewhat different to this. The new temporary retirement category is more a case of New Zealand being given and welcoming elderly migrants, provided they have enough money to invest here.

Under this scheme foreigners aged at least 66 years can move to New Zealand on an initial two-year permit if they have good health and character, agree to invest $750,000 here, have an income of $60,000 and $500,000 worth of assets.

By international standards the financial criteria for coming here are not huge, which might encourage a reasonable uptake. But even if this did occur the amount which must be invested is also comparatively modest, which suggests that the scheme might not make the contribution to economic growth which the Government hopes would occur.

Rather than encouraging the wealthy elderly to come to our shores, the focus should be on promoting New Zealand as a migration destination for younger people with skills. This would help address this nation’s serious skills shortage and contribute more meaningfully to economic growth.

I don’t think it is an either-or. One can encourage both.

And the ODT focuses on regional :

A rare piece of good news emerged for beleaguered ratepayers this week: the Otago Regional Council draft annual plan shows no increase in the general rate. The ORC chairman points out it is a draft budget only, but nevertheless, how refreshing. Why can’t other councils do the same?

Indeed. Most businesses have had to contain costs, as have most households. Even the central Government is doing so. Local Government should follow.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Editorials 12 March 2010”

  1. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Colin Espiner blogged on the rich elderly immigrant issue. The comments on his blog seemed to fall into two categories:
    1. “This is a great idea because they’ll contribute to the economy”
    2. “This is a terrible idea because they’ll be a drain on the economy”

    And the only research on the issue (which supports #2) is fifteen years old.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    “The ministry has been asked to make just $25 million in savings by 2012-13. ”
    Whats that just one or two bureaucrats.. come on Trevor.

    borrow borrow borrow its only printed paper.. as long as we pay them back them back with our own printed paper its a good deal.. The greens will proberly complain that the World is printing too much paper and we need to stop to save the trees.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. PaulL (5,873 comments) says:

    Do these elderly immigrants get citizenship and a pension/health care? If so, it sounds like a bad investment to me – they’ll almost immediately become a drain on our society.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    Part of the problem with tertiary education is the differentials in fees. Student fees were frozen in 2001, and then the fee maxima restricted the rate of increase. That meant universities with temporarily lower fees never caught up.

    The results are incredibly serious. An Institution with 20,000 EFTS and fees that are $500 lower is getting $10 million a year less. Over 9 years, that is $90 million dollars less than institutions with higher fees. The Universities that are hit by this policy struggle to provide quality, and are slowly going broke.

    We have deregulated power prices to stimulate investment. Why not deregulated University fees to promote quality?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. KiwiGreg (3,177 comments) says:

    “Do these elderly immigrants get citizenship and a pension/health care? ”

    From memory you have to be resident for 10 years to get Nat Super. Suspect the plan is they are supposed to be self-supporting. Seems like a goofy idea to me.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. freethinker (681 comments) says:

    Local rates have increased by considerably more than the rate of inflation for a decade, so failing self control(unlikely), government decree( more unlikely) a mandatory referendum on increases beyond inflation is the only sane way to get this large item of public expenditure under ratepayer control – Rodney are you listening?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Kieran_B (81 comments) says:

    As a former student of Otago University I am a strong supporter of of the compulsory student membership; I feel the students at each University need the representation to ensure quality in the courses and have somewhere to take local concerns. However NZUSA are a joke. They are disjointed, miss the point of major political announcements, and are out of step what what their members want.

    OUSA almost withdrew from the NZ Association at one stage, and I wish they had. The funding shortfall would have crippled them and maybe made them sort their shit out.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. reid (15,954 comments) says:

    Crikey, I’ve already on RedAlert told Trev off about his spelling.

    Predictably enough, Labour has tried to make a mountain out of the Government’s announcement of funding cuts in the Education Ministry. According to its education spokesman, Trevor Mallard, these will harm education quality because there will be less research and less teacher and curriculum development.

    It’s Liarbore, Trev; I said.

    L-I-A-R-B-O-R-E

    D’uh.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. mavxp (494 comments) says:

    NZUSA are a joke – they clearly don’t represent the best interests of students or New Zealand. As the editorial says it is not bums on seats but a quality education that students need. Our Universities need funding for research not more students. Quality world leading research benefits our country immensely with spin off companies that hire and keep our talent. We need to shift our investments away from dead end housing and into research and development and start-up companies.

    As far as the immigration policy goes – fine if they are foreigners with overseas pensions and wont need our public funds, because we cant afford to even pay for the baby boomers retiring. Attracting young people with skills is all well and good, but how about we try and hold on to our own first? This requires jobs, much higher salaries and cultured educated cities, instead of the increasingly feral, class-less, foul-mouthed, intoxicated trash that make up the night-life in our cities. Everyone with any nous and culture has left already (NZ’s missing Intelligentsia).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Clint Heine (1,563 comments) says:

    NZUSA are a joke and ironically spending thousands (and thousands) of dollars of students money telling them they must join their local student association. Ironically, membership to NZUSA is voluntary and throughout the years, many associations have tried to leave them – only for NZUSA to manage to get them to change their minds. They currently have a well funded campaign website opposing VSM and have not disclosed who is running it or how much money is being spent on it.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.