Misguided government funding approaches are destabilising quality public provision of courses at levels 1 to 4, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has said today following an announcement regarding the future of agricultural training at the Telford division of Lincoln University.
Management teams at Lincoln University and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre have published a statement outlining their intent to work together on transitioning the provision of future of courses at Telford to Taratahi. It follows a decision by Lincoln University to withdraw from Telford in the wake of funding cuts to level 3 and 4 courses.
National President of the Tertiary Education Union, Sandra Grey, said:
“Market-based rules are slowly chipping away at the provision of publicly owned tertiary education and have led to the Lincoln management deciding to withdraw from Telford and open negotiations with a private provider.
“Worryingly, the statement says nothing about what happens in the event these discussions are not successful. The TEU is committed to working with all parties to ensure the transition to a new provider is a success because of our commitment to ensuring all Kiwis have access to the education and training they need. Whatever the outcome of the discussions, we’re calling on the government to commit to ensuring Telford continues to provide training for young people wanting to forge a future in one of our main industries – agriculture.”
The statement of intent published today sets out the rules governing negotiations that are intended to conclude with Taratahi taking over provision at Telford later in the year. It commits Taratahi and Lincoln to finalising the detail of any potential transition by 1 April 2017.
Under the terms agreed to, existing Telford staff will be offered jobs with Taratahi as part of any transition. Staff are currently covered by a collective agreement as part of their terms and conditions and it is vital this stays in place under any new arrangement. Ensuring the new provider does not erode the working conditions of Telford staff will be a priority for the TEU throughout the consultation process committed to in the statement.
Iain Winslade, Senior Tutor at Telford, added:
“My priority and that of my colleagues is to ensure we continue to provide the best possible training for our students. The team here is passionate about their jobs and serving the local community. We welcome the commitment in the statement to consult with staff and look forward to sharing our expertise in training New Zealand’s future farmers as part of the decision making process.”