Faced with rising operational costs and increasingly constrained budgets, universities are struggling to reconcile competing imperatives. On one hand, they wish to rationalise limited student places in ways that enhance the institutions’ status; and on the other hand, they must contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of society by ensuring that members of marginalised and under-represented groups are provided educational and professional pathways through access to university education. This paper canvasses these tensions using as a case study the University of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest – and, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings 2008, highest-ranked – university. There is a plan to restrict growth in undergraduate student enrolments to the University of Auckland from 2010. The limited-entry plan arose as a result of new funding arrangements in which New Zealand tertiary education providers must negotiate multi-year funding cycles which would set the maximum numbers of student places funded for that cycle. However, this plan also reflects the University of Auckland’s use of the tertiary reform process to enhance its status and differentiate itself from other universities in the New Zealand system. We argue that any move by the University to cap student numbers needs to be strongly underpinned by a genuine commitment to equity, and that aspirations to standards of ‘quality’, without such a commitment to equity, will lead to outcomes where neither imperative is realised.
|Keywords:||Equity, Affirmative Action, Tertiary Education Funding Reform, New Zealand, Student Diversity|
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Lecturer, School of Teaching, Learning and Development, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
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