Tertiary science fund boost hailed

Keith Hunter.
Keith Hunter.
University of Otago sciences pro-chancellor Prof Keith Hunter has welcomed Government plans to boost funding for tertiary science teaching, but says other steps should also be taken to gain more benefits from science and technology.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce recently said the Government was paying too little for tertiary subjects such as chemistry and physics, compared with other courses, and wanted to start rebalancing tertiary education towards science, technology and engineering in the May 24 Budget.

The Government pays universities a subsidy of $10,545 a year for each science student, $11,282 for technology and engineering, and $6135 a year for mathematics, business and arts subjects. .

New Zealand paid a higher tertiary education subsidy for humanities and commerce than the Australians did, and paid less for science and engineering, Mr Joyce said.

Prof Hunter said current tertiary science funding did not fully take into account the substantial costs involved in science teaching, including laboratory costs.

He cautiously welcomed the proposed funding rise, but said "the devil is in the details" and did not want that increase to come at the expense of courses in humanities and commerce.

Science students benefited by taking some arts papers and links between science and commerce had been strengthened through Otago's applied science teaching programme, which helps scientists enter the business world.

The Government had taken several positive steps involving science and technology, including earlier establishing the post of chief science adviser to the prime minister.

But a recent Education Review Office report had highlighted a "tragedy" involving big shortcomings in primary school science education, Prof Hunter said.

Increasing tertiary science subsidies was not enough, and more incentives were needed to encourage science graduates to become primary teachers, he said.


Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter