Um, I thought universities weren’t really about the students but rather the research they produce. Supposedly pure research.
It's both. Their first role is to teach students. One of the things they teach is how to do research really well. You can't do that without actually doing really good research with the students. Hence both.
Note it is also not true that CRIs are only for applied research, because you can't do good applied research in an environment that doesn't also do good pure research. Hence both.
Also it is good for CRIs to have students working because they reinforce good practice (you never work more correctly than when you are trying to teach someone). So CRIs also teach.
The artificial lines between institutes have only ever been believable if you work in Govt.
On CRIs - by "worked fairly well" Labour means, resulted in science funding being channelled into administration and business management that has produced no increased science outputs of any kind and (as far as I can see) a reduction in science publication. The CRIs have done no better than the DSIR and MAF did before them at a significant increase in cost.
The CRI model also created competition and a pretty poisonous relationship and times between CRIs themselves and between CRIs and the Universities. In a small science community such as NZ that is not ideal.
I'd happily see the CRIs scraped entirely as an experiment that didn't turn out to be as good as we hoped. Sadly too many administrators now depend on their continued existence so we just have to make the best of them.
Regarding GE - the quote from Labour is
The Royal Commission on genetic modification recommended a precautionary approach
... the key factor is that was 10 years ago! We have 10 more years worth of data that should be examined when considering this question. Much as I hate to suggest it but it deserves another commission.
Final comment for now - The Greens are the only ones facing up to the rude disgusting fact that NZ puts a pathetic amount of money into science - half the OECD average, 1.31% of GDP! Of course the R&D sector struggles. Any politician that boasts about promoting innovation in that environment is telling porkies. Worth noting here that the 23% National put into my favorite funding tool Marsden (the most successful funding tool in NZ) has been frozen since then. The last Marsden round saw the lowest funding rate ever with no sign of it getting better :(.
is their purpose in taking university courses actually to complete a degree
May not be their purpose. But the taxpayers purpose is to get completion because that is an indication of competence to fulfill a specialised role in society.
However, the key thing for me is not that their completion rate is high or low for older students. What is important is that the cohort that does not qualify for Uni at age 17 then spends a couple of years to figure out if they really did want to try. Most of them choose something else during that time. A small percentage still want to have a go, some of those succeed. I'm happy enough with that.
If you want to exclude groups based on success rate then have a comparison of completion rates for various schools. Some schools send huge numbers to Uni, the majority of whom fail to complete, probably because they never wanted to go in the first place.
The key thing to to jig the numbers around until we produce "enough" graduates. And I really do know that "enough" is very hard to estimate. What I don't like is using "market forces" eg high fees and loans to control those numbers. I'd prefer to use talent as the selection criteria.
If it replaced loans it would take away that burden (real or imaginary) placed on recent graduates. Note just after you graduate is often when you do your best work so removing that from graduates minds would be a good thing.
But I still think the real problem is the fees in the first place. If the fees went down and we stopped pretending universities should be run like a business you'd remove a lot of that pressure in the first place.
In terms of grad tax
I have no problem with paying more tax. I believe we all should and those earning more should pay proportionately more so kicking it in above $48k would be fine by me.
BUT it would feel a lot like penalising graduates for learning skills we actually want in society in general. That might be an issue.
However if it only kicked in at higher salaries it would favour those lower paying degree careers.
I think this is the one that people choke on, because it’s meritocratic rather than egalitarian.
Yup. that is a pretty standard argument about selecting only the brightest to go to Uni. Oddly we don't demand that average blokes should get to play for the ABs or argue that folks that can't remember which is phase and which is neutral should be allowed to do wiring.
Note I'm not suggesting for a second that having the aptitude to learn in a way that is suitable for university training makes you a better person. In fact I have pretty good experience suggesting otherwise.
However I am saying that without that natural ability there is less likelyhood (not zero) that you will gain much from Uni.
Note also that the old system used to say "if your really bright can can go to uni straight after school, but if by the time you reach 23? or 25? you still want to go to Uni then that's fine too". And often those slightly older (more mature?) students perform really well. Part of that is desire and part of it is learning how to learn in the 17 to 25 period.
people who through good luck
and family wealth, let’s not forget.
Only now. It wasn't like that before. My cohort at Uni were not conspicuously wealthy far from it. My complaint about the current system is that it does now favour the wealthy.
At risk of derailing completely, ah who am I kidding ...
TLDR just me ranting about universities
I have a couple of major problems with student loans, but they stem first and foremost from the problem of universities using fees to limit the number of students.
In the good old days (TM) universities were the places where those people who through good luck happened to have brains that could absorb and process knowledge really well went to learn skills that would help society progress. The selection was almost completely on merit. If you were good at Rugby you played Rugby and got a job at the ASB and if you were good at Math or English you went to Uni.
The payoff for society was a cadre of people who made changes to society for the good. It was a lot random because you could never tell which student was going to contribute but you knew that a percentage would contribute. You knew that because that is the way it has actually worked in the past.
All this came at a cost to society that was borne through taxation. That was because historically it had proven to be true that having a certain number of university graduates in society helped society in pretty much every way that could be measured.
Then someone decided that if we ran universities for the economic benefit of NZ (a dubious assumption) then we should manage them like a business (a demonstrably false assumption). So universities had to charge fees according to the costs of courses. And they had to make "profits". And they got funding based on how many students they could push through to a degree (that has changed now).
So guess what, universities started promoting cheap courses like business instead of expensive ones like chemistry and engineering. And they dragged in students from everywhere they could to take those courses and charged them fees. And suddenly students couldn't afford to go to university and so the government had to step in and pay them. But that didn't look right to the economists so they made it a loan.
Now of all the things wrong with that structure the very worst one is what it does to the best and brightest students. These are the really bright kids, the ones most likely to write a great piece of music or understand the geology of our lands or develop something utterly new we never thought of before. These kids are smart. And we've made them take on a debt. So because they're smart they choose a degree that will pay that debt back as fast as possible. It may not be what they love the most and it may not be what they were capable of contributing the best to society (if you want to be prosaic, what they were born to be). In short we push our best and brightest to become lawyers and doctors, even if they were the next great author or the next great biologist or the next great chemist.
And all because someone forgot what role universities are meant to provide for society and instead slammed their business model on our universities. Scrap the loans and scrap the fees. Limit university entrance based on how many students we can afford to pay for through taxation and then select on merit.
the project needs to be sold way more compellingly
Oh good just what we need a marketing team.
I totally assumed that it was a joke. Did you not?
Didn't have a lightness to it that one might connect with a joke. But I could be wrong, he might be a charming chap who even gives girls the opportunity to do his filing for him in their heels and miniskirts and I might have just had a humour fail.