Tertiary education is part of our public/social infrastructure. It provides opportunities and education for all who are no longer in compulsory education. It also provides skills and education to support our economy and our communities. By investing in tertiary education we give our whole country opportunities, not just those who study. Tertiary education also provides opportunities for research development and critical thinking that contribute to our understanding of current issues and to finding solutions to future challenges.
As the Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015 notes, higher education levels have been linked to better general well-being, better health and greater social mobility. Tertiary-educated people are more involved in the community and are more likely to vote and stand for public office. Tertiary education promotes debate, democracy, culture and expression.
For Māori the opportunity to access tertiary education through a well-funded and accessible public system is one way by which individuals and their whānau, hapū and iwi can realise their development aspirations, as well as contribute to their communities, society and the economy.
The TEU is committed to publicly funded and publicly owned tertiary education in New Zealand. A high quality accessible public tertiary education system gives all citizens the opportunity to participate in higher education and contributes to strong communities and a strong economy.
We recognise that decisions of successive governments to treat tertiary education as a market has led to the development of a private training and education sector. Given this has occurred it is important we clarify our position on the role of private training establishments in the tertiary education sector and within our union.
The TEU does not support public funding for private training establishments. We believe that New Zealand’s small population base and constrained national tertiary education budget renders public funding of private training establishments economically inefficient and educationally unsound. Continued public funding of PTEs has resulted in duplication of provision, inefficient use of limited resources, and the establishment of providers that lack economic and educational viability. Public funding of PTEs also exposes us to the vagaries of international trade agreements such as GATS. Continued public funding of private training establishments may eventually lead to the erosion of our national system of public tertiary education institutions. First and foremost therefore the TEU will always advocate for public funding to be allocated to public tertiary education institutions.
The TEU also supports greater regulation and control of the quality of education provided in PTEs, including ensuring that there is no further proliferation of providers at a rate that threatens public provision. Regulation and control is crucial for students, for staff who work in PTEs, and for New Zealand’s educational reputation.
PTE worker rights
The TEU asserts the basic and fundamental human rights of workers in private training establishments (as in all workplaces) to organise and unionise. As a union we will endeavour to organise in private training establishments where possible and in line with our organising strategy.
Passed by Annual Conference November 2011
Policy review date: November 2013