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March 8, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Open Entry to over 20’s under review

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Projected university enrolments for 2011: 10 EFTS (7 of them International Students)

The Kiwi tradition of allowing over-20s open entry to university, regardless of their high school marks (or lack thereof) is set to change following a review announced by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce last week.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is currently reviewing the policy that allows all New Zealand citizens over the age of 20 open entry to university.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce told the Sunday Star Times that Kiwis have been “fooling themselves” under the current policy.

“The question is—is everybody who has that automatic entrance academically suited, and are they able to succeed?

“If not, are we fooling ourselves as a country in encouraging that?”

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh supports the review.

Walsh told the Sunday Star Times that the open entry policy worked when universities received funding for all students.

“Now that we only have a certain number of places, we clearly can’t have a situation where a qualified student can’t gain entry because of an unqualified over-20 is in there ahead of them.”

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said he wants universities to be consulted about the issue.

Maharey said that if the system is to be changed, it should be undertaken with caution, and that measures should be put in place to ensure no groups are prevented from attending university.

NZUSA Co-Presidents Pene Delaney and David Do are concerned the move will unfairly impact on those wanting to study.

“We are concerned that moves to restrict entry for over-20s will limit access to those who missed their first opportunities for tertiary education. This would disproportionately affect Maori, Pasifika, and second chance learners,” says Delaney.

“Open access is a cornerstone of our tertiary education system. Any moves away from this will threaten participation by most of the population into tertiary education. This is the wrong message to send when we are trying to improve New Zealanders’ skills in the current difficult economic environment,” says Do.

Joyce told the Sunday Star Times that it the move was not intended to exclude people from education, but to match people with the right institutions.

The review of open entry comes after many New Zealand universities, such as Victoria and Massey, move to follow in the footsteps of Auckland University to limit entry to under-20s, based on an academic prerequisite.

Victoria University plans to commence managed enrolment from 2011. Salient will have more information about Victoria’s plans for managed enrolments in a later issue.

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