NZQA’s decision to downgrade the confidence it has in the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki’s (WITT) ability to provide quality education is symptomatic of a tertiary education system under immense strain.
Published on Friday, NZQA’s latest External Evaluation and Review (EER) downgraded WITT to a category three, indicating it is “not yet confident” in the institution’s education performance or self-assessment.
The downgrade is a sharp fall from five years ago, when NZQA concluded in its last review that it was “highly confident” in the institution.
Less than one month ago, Unitec was also downgraded from category one to category two, indicating that NZQA had lost some of the confidence it previously had in the institution’s capability to provide quality education performance and self-assessment.
TEU national president, Sandra Grey, said the downgrades were a consequence of government policy that has put the tertiary education sector under enormous strain.
“Policies put in place by the National Government have led to inadequate funding models and auditing systems that are negatively impacting upon our public tertiary providers. As NZQA quite rightly points out, staff in these institutions are highly motivated and make an invaluable contribution to educational achievement. However, the reports also show they are overworked and urgently need significant improvements in how leadership is approached in their organisations.”
Grey also expressed concern that the work needed to turn WITT and Unitec around would further burden already overworked and stressed staff.
“We worry that the senior teams will look to staff to do the bulk of the work needed to turn these institutions around. Increasing numbers of tutors are leaving because of the illness and stress that results from the poor management and leadership identified in the reports. Placing more demands on staff will not only make our members ill, but will impact negatively on their families, and of course students.”
The TEU calls on management to ensure that staff are given a central role in decision-making about the future of both WITT and Unitec.