Flexible approach required to manage tertiary education growth
Rules have been finalised to manage growth in tertiary student numbers from 2004, Associate Education (Tertiary
Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.
The government announced plans in June to manage the unprecedented growth in tertiary student numbers from 2004. These
rules have now been confirmed and an exceptional circumstances provision introduced to allow the Tertiary Education
Commission (TEC) to approve growth exceeding these rates in some circumstances.
Under the confirmed rules individual tertiary institutions can grow year-on-year up to a limit of 15% or 1,000 EFTS per
year, whichever is the greater. Exceptional circumstances provisions will apply. The initial calculation is based on
2002 enrolments and the growth limit applies only to domestic EFTS-funded places.
Steve Maharey said the finalised rules provide some flexibility, while giving the government the ability to plan for the
costs of growth in student numbers.
“The exceptional circumstances provisions being introduced will enable tertiary education institutions to exceed the
growth limit on student enrolments where this is considered in the national interest. Adjustments will only be agreed to
if this additional growth is compensated for in future years.
“Most tertiary institutions are increasing their education provision at annual rates well below this 15% ceiling.
“The TEC will manage this process and will focus will be on balancing public expenditure, tertiary student growth and
tertiary education objectives. Safeguarding the quality of education outcomes during this process remains a top
"There has been concerns expressed that high rates of growth in some areas may risk compromising quality and ultimately
disadvantage the students. The government also wants to avoid unexpected surges in supply and demand that impact on the
tertiary education budget.
. . / 2 “The need for the TEC to have the flexibility to deal with exceptional circumstances reflects how demand for
some types of tertiary education has significantly exceeded expectations.
“Those education providers which may be allowed to exceed the 15% growth limit in equivalent full-time students (EFTS)
to start in 2004 would already have had firm plans and additional capacity in place at the time of the June announcement
about growth limits.
“The TEC will consider whether any tertiary institutions that are in this position could ‘bring forward’ for 2004 some
growth capacity from their future years’ growth plans. Such adjustment arrangements must be fiscally neutral over three
or four years
"Fifteen percent growth should be seen by the sector as a limit rather than a target. I would hope that providers are
only expanding where they are confident that the growth is in high-quality courses, well-aligned to the Tertiary
Education Strategy. If the sector is not re-examining its growth plans with this in mind, then I will need to ask the
Commission to undertake further measures to restrict growth,” Steve Maharey said.