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New Zealand - Higher Education

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There is an extensive system of postcompulsory education and training. This includes universities, polytechnics, teacher training, and various private education institutions.


Universities: There are eight universities in New Zealand. They are the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, the University of Waikato, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and the University of Otago. All universities offer courses in the usual faculties of arts, science, and commerce. Most universities specialize in certain fields. The two most prestigious universities with faculties including law and medicine are Otago and Auckland, situated at opposite ends of the country. Both have substantial international reputations and win the lion's share of competitive research funding.

New Zealand's oldest University, The University of Otago, was founded in 1869 by the early Scots settlers in Otago after gold had made the Wakefield settlement old enough to support one. It was later merged into the University of New Zealand until it became once again independent in 1960. Its campus is situated in Dunedin, a city offering the best of both worlds to 18,000 students. It has the facilities, entertainment, and variety of larger cities, with a wide range of social, cultural and sporting activities.

New Zealand's largest university, the University of Auckland, was established in 1883, and has grown into an international center of learning and academic excellence. The university is situated in the heart of the cosmopolitan city of Auckland and provides for 26,000 students.

Student Support: The student services section of the Department of Work and Income provides a range of allowances for students 18 years and over who are attending a secondary school or tertiary institution. Students may also qualify for an accommodation benefit, if they are receiving a targeted student allowance. Rates of allowances are changed annually and are subject to review. The Student Loan Scheme was established in 1992 to assist students to participate in tertiary education and eligible students may receive a loan from the government to cover fees; course-related costs—a maximum of NZ$1,000 a year is available to assist with course-related costs such as equipment, textbooks, field trips; and living costs—NZ$150 per week times the length of the course (less any entitlement to student allowances).

Students with student loans have to provide receipts for actual course costs incurred before the student is repaid. Loans, on which interest will be charged, are repayable through the Inland Revenue Department. The government reviews the interest rate yearly and the level of repayments is based on taxable income. The Department of Work and Income is responsible for administering the student loan scheme. The loans scheme was a major issue at the 1999 elections.


Polytechnics: Polytechnics provide a diverse range of academic, vocational, and professional programs and cover an increasing number of subjects at various levels of specialization. There are 23 polytechnics in New Zealand.


He Wharekura-tini Kaihautu o Aotearoa (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand) is one of New Zealand's largest education providers with 29,050 students enrolled in 1999. Nearly 75 percent of students are in paid employment and are studying part time. Many study by correspondence. The Open Polytechnic offers more than 700 courses and 120 programs ranging from National Certificate through to degree level. It consults closely with industry to ensure that qualifications are directly related to the requirements of the workplace.


Teacher Education Providers: In recent years teacher training has been offered by a range of universities, polytechnics, and private training establishments. This has increased the number of places throughout the country where training can be accessed. For example, primary teacher training is now available in places such as Rotorua and Northland. Secondary teacher training is now available in Tauranga, Gisborne, and Wairarapa. Previously people interested in becoming teachers would have had to go to the main cities to train.

All teacher education programs must go through a quality assurance process and must have the approval of the Teacher Registration Board. There is an official list of institutions that are approved by the Teacher Registration Board to offer teaching qualifications as of 30 October 2000. Several of these institutions offer off-site programs in smaller centers when there are enough students, and some offer programs through distance technology.

Numerous Programs Available: There are several different teacher education courses and programs to choose from. Among the more popular is a three-year training program for early childhood workers and teachers that is operated at each of the colleges of education. For those who wish to go into primary school teaching, the usual course of training is a period of three years at a teacher training provider, followed by two years of satisfactory teaching in a state primary school. Courses may be shortened to one or two years for trainees who are university graduates or who are part way through degree courses, or for mature trainees with relevant work experience. Most primary trainees undertake a bachelor of education qualification or enter a program where previous completion of a degree is a prerequisite.

Two options are available to people who wish to train as secondary teachers. For graduates and those with other approved advanced qualifications there is a one-year course. People with University Entrance or acceptable Sixth Form Certificate grades may be accepted into division B, which involves up to four years consecutive or concurrent study. Secondary teacher training can be undertaken at a variety of institutions.

People who wish to become speech/language therapists enroll for afour-year bachelor of education (Speech-Language Therapy) degree at the University of Canterbury. Postgraduate courses for teachers who wish to be trained as teachers of people with disabilities are available at Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, and Christchurch. Specialist postgraduate training courses for teachers of the deaf and visually impaired are located at Auckland and Christchurch.


Continuing Education for Teachers: A wide range of professional education papers are offered to teachers, most of them intended to provide credits towards diploma qualifications and service increments for certified teachers. Wänanga (Maori tertiary institutions) provide tertiary education and training, while assisting the application of knowledge regarding ahuatanga Maori (Maori tradition) in accordance with tikanga Maori (Maori custom). Two wänanga qualified for funding on the same basis as universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education from 1994, and are governed in the same way as other tertiary institutions.

There are large numbers of private training establishments (PTEs) in New Zealand, of which about 800 are registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). PTEs that enroll foreign students are required by law to have course approval and accreditation from the NZQA. The legislation provides protection for foreign students who pay tuition fees in advance. PTEs offer a wide range of courses, often in niche markets.


Other Tertiary Education Providers: There are a number of other tertiary education providers. Included in this group are national organizations such as Literacy Aotearoa, the Workplace Education Trust, three national early childhood preservice teacher education providers, and the National Association of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Home Tutor Schemes. These other tertiary education providers receive an annual grant for the academic year and must conform to similar standards of accountability and financial viability as do private training establishments and tertiary education institutes.


Continuing Education: Continuing education for adults is widespread in New Zealand. The National Resource Center for Adult Education and Community Learning is a resource center for people and groups involved in adult and community learning. Community Learning Aotearoa New Zealand (CLANZ) gives recommendations on the dispersal of grants to community groups for nonformal adult learning projects. Many voluntary organizations make some provision for continuing education. Some organizations, such as the New Zealand Workers' Educational Association, have community education as their primary purpose.

All eight universities have centers for continuing education. Most offer the general public substantial continuing education programs in the liberal studies area. There has been, however, a significant increase in programs designed for specialist groups, especially occupational. Some of these are national in scope. At the local level, school community education programs provide educational opportunities for adults residing within a particular school community. Polytechnics provide a range of community education courses and programs for adults both on campus and through outposts.


Distance Education: The main agencies in the field of distance education are the Correspondence School, the Center for University Extramural Studies of Massey University, and The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.


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