Interesting article today quoting Sir Peter Gluckman on a possible new element to the brain drain; students undertaking their undergraduate studies overseas.
In the absence of any real data on this its hard to say if there has been a spike in students going overseas to undertake undergraduate studies. Anecdotally there has been an increased presence of Australian universities holding recruitment sessions at some schools. Just how many students are taking them up is a piece of information worth knowing, and I welcome Sir Peter looking into it.
One thing is for sure and that is that Australian universities are now operating in an environment where targeting New Zealand students makes sense. They have had a number of funding increases in recent budgets and are operating in an uncapped environment when it comes to enrolments. Add to that the ease with which New Zealand students can enrol and be treated as domestic students in terms of fees, and the incentives are there on both sides.
All of which makes Steven Joyce’s comments in this story just bizzare. He says
Joyce said the election promise had not been about stopping the brain drain, but increasing the success of the New Zealand economy so more people felt they could be successful here.
”It doesn’t apply to undergraduates, it applies to people earning high incomes in New Zealand,” he said.
First off it is simply untrue to say National did not campaign on stopping the brain drain. Take a look at the billboards Mr Joyce, that is exactly what they promised. And the opposite has occured.
Moreover his laissez faire attitude to the departure of undergraduate students is bizarre. They are the future earners of high incomes! We have a hard enough time keeping our best and brightest here without waving them goodbye at 18.
Regardless of the accuracy of the claim of undergraduate flight, we do need to take another look at how we invest in the tertiary sector to ensure that we are getting the best outcomes for students and for New Zealand as a whole. There does need to be a focus on both ensuring equity of access and developing world class institutions. More from me on that soon. But in short we also need to see the sector as a key part of our economic growth agenda, not some drain on the country;s finances.
When I listen to Steven Joyce I sometimes feel that the whole tertiary education thing is a bit of nuisance to him, (eg his moves to “dampen demand” and the budgeted decline in tertiary funding) rather than the opportunity for economic and social progress that it should be.