Originally published on Insight:Politics 6 March 2020


Shane Jones is still chuckling to himself over getting better treatment from Jacinda Ardern than Australian PM Scott Morrison, following a wet bus ticket flailed in his direction as he blames Indian students for destroying NZ academic institutions. Jones is blunt, loose lipped and not-PC in the least. There is a sector of the electorate which finds that appealing, however many are the same people NZ First has spent the last two years betraying with zero remorse demonstrated.


While their rhetoric may be anti-immigrant, their actions in signing the UN Compact for Migration and complete inaction to reduce net migration shows that their rhetoric is nothing more.Their rhetoric on racial laws and the Maori seats vanished upon signing their coalition agreement with Labour. New Zealand First has forgotten every policy Winston made up since joining this Government, as they always do, and the polls indicate the party’s voters aren’t going to give them an 8th life.


What Jones has said about Indian students, India and the education exporting enterprises of New Zealand is of course lazy, racist nonsense from a corrupt, slush-fund operating jerk-off. The best thing that ever happened to New Zealand education since the end of bottled milk, Charter Schools, was cast aside in 2018 with NZ First’s support. Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin shouldn’t be allowed to own dogs, nevermind prevent dogs from entering one.


In 2018, international education was New Zealand’s third biggest grossing industry, bringing $5.1 billion into the economy. I don’t dispute that there will be some pretty average educational institutes amongst that, nor that some of the courses may be a bit rubbish. The number of CVs with a Diploma in Business Level 7 are like Zimbabwean paper currency in their proliferation and I’m unsure of their value. Working in the supermarket industry, qualifications are rarely of interest when determining the best candidate for the job. However, these courses aren’t costing me a cent. They’re funded by the students taking the courses, and enriching New Zealand in the billions of dollars.


The New Zealand public education sector, administered by the same Government that Minister Shane Jones is a member, is very different. The 2019/20 budget forecast $14.3 billion of funding over the next year. Unlike the international education industry, government taxation costs me over $20,000 a year (give or take a few grand) via income tax, GST, excise etc. A rough estimate, based on the previous budget suggests international education, with a budget of $32m costs me $5.60 while all other education at all levels costs me $2900 annually. So if we are going to examine the ruination of education, which provider is probably going to be on the back foot from the start?


Export Education is largely a provider of tertiary education so let’s start with comparing the private providers with the state subsidised providers. The export providers get a 0% subsidy per student. The New Zealanders studying at New Zealand universities get a 75% subsidy funded by the taxpayer. Hence my complete disinterest in the quality of courses provided to international students; that’s their problem. The quality of university courses being subsidised by our tax dollars is very interesting to me. I was making fun of gender studies for many years before it was cool. Having dropped-out of secondary school and never attended university, I’m probably a bit of a slow learner. The howls of outrage and rivers of SJW tears haven’t made the slightest impact on my enthusiasm for pointing out academic fecal matter at every opportunity.


New Zealand Universities collectively get 42% of their funding from the Government (and 8% from a Performance-Based Research Fund – checkmate teacher unions). New Zealand students contribute about 18% of university revenue through domestic tuition fees with International fees contributing an extra 10%. It is very onerous obtaining the numbers of students studying particular courses across all universities in New Zealand, then measuring what each is costing the taxpayer, however I’ve come across the broad numbers of students for some areas of study:

  • Other Society and Culture Courses – 13,145
  • Performing Arts – 7,720
  • Visual Arts and Crafts – 7,850
  • Other Creative Arts – 2,420


As for particular courses on offer, these are the most profound available on the University of Auckland website:

  • Community Dance
  • Classical Studies and Ancient History
  • (insert ethnicity) Studies
  • Theological and Religious Studies
  • Transnational Cultures and Creative Practice
  • Dance Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • (insert demographic) Studies
  • Creative Writing


Now some of the courses in that list do look interesting and I wouldn’t necessarily poo-poo studying them. What I will question is whether it passes the sniff test; will a qualification lead to a post-university career? Is it sufficiently important to justify those who don’t get a tertiary qualification paying 75% of the cost for those who do study them?


What about some of big ticket items being funded by the Government each year, or initiatives started by the current government? Are Indians doing more damage to the educational sector than the funding of those (figures from 2019/20 Budget)?


  • $2,083,000 – UNESCO
  • $3,785,000 – Service Academies providing military-focused programmes for disengaged students in secondary schools.
  • $10,143,000 – Students Attendance and Engagement providing services to support increased attendance for non-attending students
  • $58,762,000 – The total cost of Ministerial oversight of the education sector (excluding tertiary)
  • $3,885,000 –  Addressing regulated wage pressure in Early Learning and Schools
  • $5,549,000 – Migration of chartered schools to the state system
  • $7,749,000 – Pay equity settlement and programme costs plus payroll legislative and compliance projects
  • $13,183,000 – Initiatives to increase teacher supply 
  • $346,000,000 – To make the first year of tertiary education free of charge.


Fees Free is a Labour policy that aims to make one year of study free of charge to individuals students enrolled in tertiary education. Should Labour be elected to Government for a second term, the first two years of study will become fees free, expanded to the first three years of study should Labour win the 2023 election. It is early days and difficult to fully judge the impact of this policy, however a reduction in student numbers by 0.3% isn’t very promising.


What objective measurements are available to demonstrate the quality of the education New Zealand children are receiving or whether they are absorbing this education sufficiently? That can be difficult considering the wide array of teaching methods and diversity of learning methods and abilities in schools. Charter schools were started in 2011 due to the obvious difference in learning/teaching styles present and students’ optimal methods of benefiting. They were absorbed back into the one-size-fits-all public monolith at the behest of teacher unions by Labour in 2018.


A landline and mobile phone survey of 1,000 NZ residents aged 18 and over was commissioned by the New Zealand Initiative in May 2019 and asked some basic general knowledge questions; the results of which you can find here. Some of the questions asked and the proportion of correct answers include

  • How long does it take for the Earth to go around the sun? 53%
  • What year was the Treaty of Waitangi signed? 32%
  • If a car travels at a constant speed of 40 km/h, how far would it travel in 45 minutes? 48%
  • Imagine you put $100 in a savings account that paid 2% interest, Assuming no fees or tax, how much would be in the account after one year? 57%
  • If you left it in the same account for five years, would the balance be a) less than $110 b)$110 c) more than $110 39%


International PISA tests, taken by 6200 New Zealand 15 year olds from 194 schools found average scores had dropped since 2015 on

  • Science: 508 down 5 – 12th out of 79 counties
  • Reading 506 down 3 – 11th equal with Sweden
  • Maths 494 down 1 – 27th below Iceland


While the reduction in scores from 2015-2018 was not statistically significant, long-term trends were a concern for the Ministry of Education. Over the past 12-18 years New Zealand scores have declined 23 points for reading, 22 points for science and 29 points for maths.


The surveying of 15 year olds as part of this testing also found that increasing numbers of children reporting their classroom environments are not good places for learning. NZ has some of the worst scores for classroom behaviour in the OECD with 41% of students reporting noise and disorder in the classroom, 35% saying students did not listen to their teachers and 29% had skipped school at least once in the previous 2 weeks. The number of students stating they do not feel safe in school has risen to 19% in 2018, up from 13% in 2009.


I started by condemning Shane Jones’ statement  “I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions.” Having analysed what educational goods are provided by New Zealand government funding, the results they obtain, the expense to the taxpayer and the ideological destruction of charter schools, I’d have no issue arguing students from New Delhi are probably one of the few positives in educational institutrions I can find.


However, Jones’ comments were made in the context of the growing New Zealand population and the acceleration of that growth. What happens to the students from New Delhi once they have obtained their qualification? That is an important question that deserves answering in full in a future article.


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