Bold proposal puts people at the heart of vocational education

Source: Tertiary Education Union

Press release 13 February 2019

Bold proposal puts people at the heart of vocational education

Staff can turn their attention to opening doors for students and communities with creative teaching, learning, and research under bold changes proposed today for vocational education says the Tertiary Education Union.

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, today launched a “Reform of Vocational Education”. The proposed changes are aimed at ending the market competition between education providers which has led to hundreds of courses closing, thousands of students missing out on learning opportunities, an unhealthy growth in management layers in the tertiary education sector, and $100 million in bailouts over the last few years for polytechnics unable to survive financially.

The centre piece of the reform package is ensuring that polytechnic teaching and learning is at the heart of vocational education, in the form of lifelong training and up-skilling for work, and local communities. The proposal is to set up a single institute of technology and polytechnic that would provide expanded in-work, online, and campus-based provision throughout the country.

TEU President Michael Gilchrist says union members have been at the forefront of debates about securing quality education for students no matter where they live or what their background is, and it was heartening that a government has finally heard their advice.

The union released its aspirations for the ITP sector earlier this month.

“There’s lots more planning and thinking to do if we are to really make sure that students, staff, employers, and communities are able to chart their own course when it comes to tertiary education but the Minister’s plan gives us a solid platform to get back to what we love doing – teaching, learning, and research.”

TEU Industrial and Professional vice-president, George Tongariro, is excited by the prospect that he and other lecturers and tutors around the country will be able to ensure courses reflect community needs. Tongariro notes that staff and students at Whitireia Polytechnic were facing losing distinct kaupapa Māori teaching and learning spaces due to the financial and competitive pressures the institution faced under the failed market-model of provision.

He says “The proposal for a single polytechnic to provide courses around Aotearoa is only tenable because there is strong recognition that we have diverse students and communities. This means staff being given the freedom to adapt collectively designed material to reflect local needs and opportunities.”

The TEU notes that the Minister’s bold approach to ensuring every New Zealander has access to education requires staff to have jobs which provide them the freedom to build relationships with students, local businesses, iwi, and communities.

Gilchrist notes “This means good jobs with secure futures, after all staff conditions are work are students’ conditions of learning. The minister is right when he says that ad-hoc approaches were never going to provide the life-long learning opportunities the country needs.”

The bold changes proposed for the sector provide some exciting opportunities, says national secretary Sharn Riggs, but also challenges that staff will have to face together. The Minister, TEC, and current employers need to ensure that staff are well supported through the consultation phase and the changes that will follow.

“Together this union will ensure the innovative and future-focussed ideas of staff keep being heard by the government, but this means being given the time and space to think, meet, and talk.”

We also have been clear with the Minister that having a single polytechnic provides a genuine opportunity to ensure long-term stability of jobs not just in both major centres but also in regional communities who have been the big losers under the previous government’s failed market experiment in tertiary education, Riggs says.

The union is convening a meeting of representatives from all ITPs next Tuesday to discuss the reform proposal, as well as setting up online and face-to-face meeting spaces for staff to collectively respond to the government’s proposal. More details are on the TEU website.

For more information

  • Michael Gilchrist, TEU national president, +64 27 8994256
  • Sharn Riggs, TEU national secretary, +64 27 4438768
  • George Tongariro, TEU vice president, +64 27 5709086
  • Sandra Grey, Political officer, +64 21 844176


Staff are the foundation for the future of tertiary education

Source: Tertiary Education Union

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins is reminded today by the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) that the success of his planned reform of institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITP) will depend on the extraordinary skill, knowledge and experience of the people working and studying in the sector.

In its report Changing Lives, published this afternoon, the TEU emphasises that staff conditions of work are student’s conditions of learning. Unless the Minister puts the relationship between staff and students at the centre of a reformed ITP sector, his reforms are bound to fail. It was timely reminder from the TEU, coming just one week before the Minister announces radical plans to restructure ITPs and change the vocational education and training system.

Changing Lives makes clear that these reforms must guarantee a significant increase in funding for the sector, and an end to the broken competitive system put in place under the last Government. It also say the reforms must ensure a nationwide network of provision that reaches into every community, ensuring all New Zealanders have access to tertiary education through a range of delivery options.

Michael Gilchrist, national president of the TEU, said:

“ITPs and vocational education more broadly provides life-changing learning opportunities to thousands of New Zealanders. Whether it’s a young person figuring out their path, changing careers later in life, learning new skills or finding their passion, ITPs are there to support them on their way. A priority for the Minister must be to make sure ITPs stay broadly and deeply connected to the communities, both regional and urban, in which they are placed.

“More than this, the hard-working teaching and support staff in ITPs play a crucial role in helping us develop the practical and intellectual skills we need to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. The Minister would do well to remember when he makes his announcement next week that ITPs and their connections to local communities and industry, provide a vital link between what this Government has promised and what it can deliver. Without the skill, experience and dedication of the staff in the sector, we simply cannot train future house builders, nurses, and social workers.”

Other recommendations in the TEU’s report Changing Lives call on the Minister to:

  • Demonstrate the reforms proposed for the ITP sector foster the Tiriti relationship expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Allocate funding on a secure and equitable basis so we can finally pay a Living Wage to all staff directly and indirectly employed; eliminate any and all gender pay imbalances; and stop the proliferation of casual, insecure and fixed-term employment agreements.
  • Preserve and enhance the regional distinctiveness of all campuses and courses, without exception
  • Ensure every campus, regardless of its location or proximity to other campuses, must have an academic leader appointed who will work with staff to make decisions that will improve teaching, learning and research
  • Guarantee all regions will have access to tertiary level learning opportunities, including ensuring the provision of levels 1 – 4 in every community
  • End all competitive funding and adopt the recommendations in the TEU’s recent report Funding the Future


MIL-OSI UK: Lords debates challenges facing young people

Source: British Parliament News

12 December 2018
Members of the Lords, including a former lecturer in youth and community work at Sunderland Polytechnic and a former health education advisor for the Inner London Education Authority, will debate the challenges facing young people, in the House of Lords on Thursday 13 December.

This is a general debate. They normally take place on a Thursday in the chamber. During debates, members are able to put their experience to good use, discussing current issues and drawing the government’s attention to concerns.
The debate was proposed by Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Labour), former lecturer in youth and community work at Sunderland Polytechnic.
Members expected to take part include:
Earl of Listowel (Crossbench), board member and trustee of the Child and Family Practice Charitable Foundation
Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour), former health education advisor for the Inner London Education Authority
Lord Norton of Louth (Conservative), ambassador for the Albert Kennedy Trust support organisation for homeless LGBT+ young people
Lord Storey (Liberal Democrat), former primary school head teacher and co-chair of the Liberal Democrat PPC on Education, Families and Young People
Lord Agnew of Oulton (Conservative), parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Education, will respond on behalf of the government.
Further information
Image: iStockphoto