Campus passports slated as money-making

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 06/02/2014

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Interested in taste-testing tertiary education?

Massey University's campus passports offer the public the chance to try out higher-level education for a fraction of the price of enrolled scholars and without the end-of-course assessments.

However, student leaders say the scheme could see fulltime, full fee-paying students suffer, with the passports devaluing degrees by offering dummy-runs of study without the drudgery.

Nearly 60 courses are available for a scholastic spot check across Massey's three campuses, in Palmerston North, Albany and Wellington.

With a price tag of $250, the passport lets people attend lectures of interest for a semester - covering subjects including accountancy, economics, human development, brain and behaviour, earth science, statistics and organisational psychology - but not sit exams, do assessments or gain any academic credit.

Massey spokesman James Gardiner said the passports were for anyone who had a general interest in a subject and wanted more knowledge.

"We believe this provides both a public service and an opportunity to showcase what we do to people who may decide to enrol or relay a positive experience of a lecturer to another potential student."

New Zealand Union of Students' Associations president Daniel Haines said charging would-be students to sit in on lectures was a money-making scheme.

And without the critical engagement and thinking provided through tutorials, assessments, exams and contact with fellow students, there was not a lot being learned by tertiary taste-testers, he said.

"You're not learning anything more than you would by watching a doco on TV and the fact they are charging money for people to come and sit in seems like a scam - my mum could come to class with me if she wanted and there would be no way to know." Tertiary Education Union spokesman Stephen Day said anything encouraging more people to study was good as long as the risks were evaluated.

"The fish hooks we see are that class sizes at universities are already large and if further people are sitting in it's just extra pressure [on lecturers]."

Massey University Students' Association president Linsey Higgins said schemes like this impacted on the learning of students who had paid thousands of dollars to take part in formal high-level education.

There was already limited one-on-one contact time with lecturers for fulltime students, as well as crowded lecture theatres, Miss Higgins said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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