For knowledge society read knowledge economy? One future for tertiary education in New Zealand

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Learning for an Unknown Future Vol. 26

July, 2003, 692 pages
Published by
Helen Mathews and Rod McKay
0 90 8557 55 8

New Zealand tertiary education, under the fifth Labour government, is currently undergoing the largest single review in the country’s history. While many of the changes have been welcomed by the academic community, they are premised on a very particular understanding of the future. We know that futures can only ever be unpredictable, contingent and constructed differently by different people in different contexts. However, New Zealand tertiary education policy texts draw a singular image of the future generated from a western, now globalised ideal of the knowledge society underpinned by a seemingly relentless drive for progress and economic growth. This particular narrative of the future constructs research as the hero; as the means by which New Zealand will create the new knowledge products, processes and services, all apparently essential for lifting the country out of the bottom half of the OECD rankings and for delivering us to the ultimate destination, the knowledge society. The paper critically examines and describes this discourse in some of the most recent New Zealand tertiary education policy documents. This is contextualised in terms of earlier attempts under a National government to reorient disparate tertiary education, science and business policies for the reinvigoration of an economy in recession. Finally, an expansion of ‘futures’ narratives for research policy and practices, as multiple and open to a wide range of possibilities is proposed.

Keywords: knowledge society, tertiary education, futures

For knowledge society read knowledge economy? One future for tertiary education in New Zealand

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Harvey, S.