Audio: Universties have to adapt to changes in the workforce. Universities New Zealand Executive Director Chris Whelan talks with Mike Hosking

A step into the unknown for the country’s universities, after Labour announced first time tertiary students won’t pay any fees next year, and by 2024, three years of training or study will be free.

Universities New Zealand represents the views of the eight institutions.

It’s unsure how many more people will want to go to uni, as first year fees get wiped from next year.

Executive director Chris Whelan said participation rates have increased dramatically in the last 20 years and universities don’t actually know how much their enrollment numbers will change.

“We’re not sure. What we don’t know how is how much unmet demand there is out there, international evidence suggests generally there is 5-10 er cent of the population who are reluctant to take out a loan.”

However, economic changes mean more New Zealanders might need university degrees and Whelan believes tertiary institutions have to keep up with the changing nature of work.

However, targeting it to the five to ten percent of people who can’t afford it would be more efficient.

“It’s not necessarily the best way of lifting participation rate but obviously it’s the policy the government was elected on and we’ll be working with the government to implement it.”

LISTEN ABOVE TO CHRIS WHELAN TALK WITH MIKE HOSKING

Source: Newstalk ZB

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