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Media Release - TEC misleads public on PTE funding

�TEC�s media release today about the new PTE funding pool omits key information, casting a slur upon the PTE sector�, said Dave Guerin, Independent Tertiary Institutions executive director. �Even though our members have performed better than the average in this review, we are concerned about the misleading media release from the TEC. After PTE and TEC staff have worked so hard to make this system work, it is heart-breaking to see the final results presented so badly.�

The media release states that 78 of the 480 (16%) PTE qualifications reviewed this year will not be funded next year, but this is different from what they are telling PTEs. �Low relevance� qualifications could lose their funding next year, but TEC may also reduce their funding or require them to improve their game (see excerpt below from letter from TEC to PTEs 30 June 2005).

�For assessments of low strategic relevance, possible responses included that:

�It is irresponsible of the TEC to release such data that is completely incorrect. 78 qualifications will not have their funding cut next year. The 78 qualifications also have much smaller enrolments than the average qualification, so the percentage of funding is lower than 16%. Given a range of possible outcomes and low enrolments, funding cuts should not be overstated.�

�The media release also misleads people about the provisional category that 228 out of the 480 (48%) qualifications reviewed this year will fall into. Many of these provisional assessments are due to TEC creating new criteria out of thin air (which no-one had collected any data upon) or misusing existing assessments.�

PTEs only had a month to prepare lengthy proposals after seeing the criteria for the first time. Since many could not collect historical data in that timeframe, they have been marked provisional. That is not bad quality, just bad assessment practice.

As an example of the misuse of existing statistics, one PTE had a target to have students with disabilities making up 10% of its enrolments. They enrolled 1 person with a disability on the course but the total enrolments went from the normal 10 up to 13. This PTE received a provisional assessment because they had not met their own target. If the PTE had set a 5% target, they would have been fine. This is just silly stuff and is the reason why these low-level, easily skewed statistics have not been used previously for funding decisions.

�Most provisional qualifications will pass next year�s assessment with flying colours and for TEC to suggest that those providers are of questionable quality is appalling. It is the TEC�s timelines and reporting that has been of questionable quality.�

�ITI broadly supports the Assessment of Strategic Relevance and we believe it is an advance on previous crude funding mechanisms, but there are problems with timelines and process that need to be fixed.�

�Universities took the TEC to court and won, when TEC planned to release research performance data without proper consultation. It is unfortunate that those lessons have not been learnt by the TEC.�

�We can�t take the TEC to court because they have released the information already. We urge all news organisations to treat the TEC data with caution.�

Contact Dave Guerin at 021 404 334. Independent Tertiary Institutions (ITI) is a group of 15 high quality private tertiary education providers enrolling over 6,000 students pa.

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