Students tell the tertiary sector to respond to industry trends

On Saturday 23 July, Jacinta Gulasekharam, Academic Vice President from Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) outlined why students desire an equitable approach to education at Voices from Tertiary Education, a two-day symposium organised by the Tertiary Education Union.

Gulasekharam summarised key findings from a recent Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) student consultation where students gave feedback on how innovation could be integrated into tertiary education.

The main findings from Gulasekharam’s consultation was that Victoria students valued diversity, but felt that increasing the number of international students to meet budgetary targets was blurring the purpose of delivering higher education.

‘Tertiary institutions have enrolment and degree completion targets. However, what we found through our student consultation was that tertiary institutions were increasing their international enrolments to reach targets; but this was putting pressure on the overall quality of services and resourcing for services crucial to the student experience,’ says Gulasekharam, VUWSA’s Academic Vice President.

Additional findings from Gulasekharam’s student consultation found that students felt more emphasis should be made on increasing soft skills, and ensuring that industry was included in informing the tertiary sector’s curriculum.

‘The tertiary world is continually evolving to keep up with a rapidly changing working world. Tertiary institutions must keep up with technological developments, trends in globalisation and sector-graduate demands so that when students graduate, their degrees are relevant to the sectors where they gain employment,’ says Gulasekharam.

Neglecting to keep up with these trends creates problems in students’ lives as tertiary education must provide students with the ability to adapt to the changing nature of the work environment. To combat this, tertiary providers needs to work together, not compete, to collaboratively improve the equity of opportunity within tertiary education.’

Another round of student consultation after the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report in September will help shape the direction of what students believe is the New Model of Tertiary Education.

VUWSA will include VUW students in further consultation regarding the future of tertiary education, which will inform the Productivity Commission’s final report due to release February 2017.