Building New Zealand's Knowledge Base

Max Bradford Tertiary Education

The Government will spend up to $37 million a year to fund more than 1600 tertiary education scholarships, Minister for Tertiary Education Max Bradford announced today.

"The scholarships will encourage a greater number of young New Zealanders with the potential to build New Zealand's knowledge base to get skills in the science and technology area.

"They will also help focus research into areas that will be the source of New Zealand's future wealth," Mr Bradford said.

"The scholarships will increase the supply of highly-trained researchers and graduates, as well as providing incentives for stronger links between tertiary education providers and business enterprises," he said.

Mr Bradford announced that three new tertiary level scholarships would be launched:

  • Enterprise Scholarships - Government will contribute up to $20 million of new funding annually by 2004
    • For advanced tertiary study, jointly agreed between student, education provider and enterprise.
    • Jointly funded with industry to increase the pool of people with specialised skills.
    • Next year around 500 students will receive enterprise scholarships, rising to 1000 in 2001 and 1500 from 2002 onwards.
    • Scholarship value around $8000 per annum, per student.

  • Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships - $10 million of new funding each year by 2002
    • Up to 80 scholarships for study each year here or overseas
    • Worth around $40,000 each per year
    • Recipients will be bonded.

  • Post-Doctoral Fellowships - worth $7.25 million a year
    • Will allow students who have completed their PhD in New Zealand to complete post-doctoral research here or overseas.
    • Funding will be reallocated from existing programmes, including $2 million from the public good science fund.
    • Will allow approximately 26 new fellowships to be awarded - double the number currently available in one year.

"Backing our brightest and best will strengthen New Zealand's ability to innovate and create value," Mr Bradford said.

"In the knowledge economy our ability to embrace new technologies, develop new ideas and make them work for us, will be more important than our ability to simply farm or manufacture efficiently," he said.


Q. Why has the Government launched a scholarships package?

    One of the concerns expressed at the 5 Steps Ahead forums was that we do not adequately celebrate success and provide rewards for our most talented students. Scholarships provide a concrete means of recognising, rewarding and supporting our best students to encourage everybody to aim for success.

    In addition, the Enterprise Scholarships provide opportunities for greater collaboration between business and tertiary education providers. Enterprises will be able to benefit from students undertaking research projects and/or advanced training in areas that will be relevant to New Zealand's future workforce needs.

Q. Does this mean the Government is dictating what subjects students are studying?

    No. The doctoral scholarships are for the best students from any field. The enterprise scholarships are for excellent proposals agreed by students, education providers and enterprise. This could be in any topic from marketing to French interpretation, provided business is willing to pay part of the cost. Thus, the market and not Government is choosing what subjects students study.

Q. How will businesses benefit from the Enterprise Scholarships?

    Employers, by putting up scholarships (with a matching contribution from Government) will be able to influence the study choices of students and, where appropriate, provide ideas for student research projects. Because Enterprise Scholarship applications require a joint submission from an enterprise, a tertiary education provider, and a student - there is opportunity for greater collaboration and synergies to emerge. Since enterprises will have an on-going interest in the progress of the student, and related research and teaching by academic staff, more strategic and mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and providers are likely to result over time.

Q. What is in the scholarships package for ordinary New Zealanders?

    The scholarships package is primarily about rewarding excellence. It targets people with the best and brightest minds who have the most potential to significantly contribute to New Zealand society and to our future wealth as a country. If we provide the right incentives for our "best brains" to remain in New Zealand this will significantly contribute to growing the economy. With greater economic growth there will be more scope for social spending, tax reductions, and improvements to the quality of life of all New Zealanders.

Q. Should students be able to use the Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarships overseas?

    The top achievers at doctoral level have always sought out the best possible education providers with which to further their studies and many have traditionally headed overseas. The best students need the best education possible and interaction with the researchers at the forefront in the field. The Doctoral Scholarships will require students to be bonded. This will provide strong incentives for our brightest minds to return to New Zealand after they have completed their studies (students will be permitted to undertake further post-doctoral research overseas before returning to New Zealand).

Q. How do the scholarships fit within the existing policies operating in the tertiary education sector?

    Scholarships are intended to complement the existing policy arrangements. Tuition subsidies are provided to all students in approved tertiary education providers. The Government still subsidises the majority of tuition costs. In addition students are able to borrow under the student loan scheme and around a third of students are eligible for student allowances. Students who are successful in gaining scholarships are likely to need to borrow less.

Q. How will research that does not have a commercial application be affected by these initiatives?

    The amount of investment in fundamental research by Government through Vote Education, the Health Research Council and the Marsden Fund will not change. Funds available for health research increased by $2.5 million, and for the Marsden Fund by $1 million in the 1999/2000 budget.

Q. Who can apply for a post doctoral fellowship

    New Zealand researchers who have graduated within the last two years with a PhD from a New Zealand or overseas research institution.

Q. What is being done to ensure there are enough jobs in science and technology for the additional highly qualified people assisted by these programmes?

    Ongoing increases in Government investment in basic and applied research and development will continue to absorb many qualified people. But Government is also creating an environment where the business sector is confident and motivated to invest in research and development to generate business growth. Rewarding new employment opportunities in research and development will come from strong growth in enterprises which invest in skills, knowledge and networks to sell their innovative products and services. The Government will also undertake an aggressive campaign to attract inward investment.