Universities express unease over plan to make graduate pay data public

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says it is 'more important than ever for students to consider carefully their ...
GRANT MATTHEW / FAIRFAX NZ

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says it is 'more important than ever for students to consider carefully their tertiary study options'.

The country's peak university body is uneasy about a government move to force universities and polytechnics to publish information on graduates' pay and employment status.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said the data, which will be available from 2017 and broken down by course of study, showed it was committed to helping students make more informed decisions about higher education.

Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan said it was not opposed to the information being available to government officials who might need it to identify unproductive courses.

But he feared it might mislead students. "It will be as easy for this exercise to mislead and confuse as it will be for it to guide and inform." he said.

Graduates had a higher likelihood of settling in the cities in which they studied, he said.

People who lived in Auckland might be more likely to earn higher salaries because of the higher cost of living in the city, but that did not mean a medical degree earned from Otago University was of a lesser value than one from Auckland, he said.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment publishes an annual Occupational Outlook study that shows the pay, average course fees and job prospects associated with 50 different professions.

The data is sourced from Inland Revenue and tertiary institutions, but is not currently broken down by educational provider.   

Joyce said providing the breakdowns would let students see if employers preferred graduates from particular providers and would also help universities and polytechnics "identify when they might not be meeting employers' needs as well as they could".

Whelan said the Occupational Outlook report would not be the right place to publish such data. The United States government had considered a similar move but decided against it, he said.

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 - Stuff

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