The winner of the Treasury's University Challenge is Alasdair MacLeod, an LLB/BA (Hons) student majoring in Public Policy at Victoria University.
His essay looking at the accessibility of tertiary education for Maori, Pasifika, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds was judged best among entries submitted from all of New Zealand's universities and from a range of disciplines. Entrants were asked to write a 2000-word essay either on the quality of rental housing, fiscal policy advice, or accessible tertiary education for priority learners.
"The calibre of Alasdair's essay and those of the other finalists was very impressive," says Treasury Deputy Secretary for Strategy, Change and performance Bill Moran.
"In looking at the options for encouraging students from under-represented groups to enrol in Bachelor programmes at universities, Alasdair identified and addressed a range of issues in the wider education system that could affect the outcomes for priority students at university.
"His analysis of the wider context, including priority students' transition to employment, led to alternative proposals to support these students through to degree completion and into the workforce. It demonstrates the critical skills and analytical thinking we are looking for and I congratulate Alasdair on his success" Bill Moran said.
The runner-up, Sam Grayling, also from Victoria University, is studying towards a Master of Professional Economics. "His essay on the quality of rental housing showed a good understanding of the issues and problems and he made great use of evidence to support his policy analysis.
"This competition has been a success for the Treasury. We wanted to give university students a feel for the range of work the Treasury does and let them test their analytical skills on real life policy issues. University Challenge has also been a great opportunity for the Treasury to look at a range of ideas from different people."
Winner Alasdair MacLeod will receive $2,500 towards his university fees for 2015.
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