National’s failure to keep Ara pledge a betrayal of Timaru community

Posted By TEU on May 3, 2017 |

National will be betraying a pledge to ensure quality tertiary education provision in Timaru unless it intervenes to save five primary training courses earmarked for closure at the Ara Institute of Canterbury, the TEU said today.

Management at the institution have today released a consultation paper that outlines plans to shut down a five courses, leaving six staff facing redundancy. The institution cites one reason for the proposed closure as increased competition from private businesses.

Aoraki Polytechnic and the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology merged in 2015, establishing the Ara Institute of Canterbury. Then Tertiary Education Minister, Steven Joyce, said at the time that “merging the two organisations will provide the highest quality tertiary education for learners, for the institutions and for the region.” The Aoraki Chief Executive, Alex Cabrera, also said the merger was “being done to offer our learners more, not less, choice.” The proposals published today are the latest in a long line of course and staff cuts that have seriously destabilised tertiary education provision in Timaru.

Carol Soal, president of the TEU branch at the Ara Institute of Canterbury, said:

“We are extremely disappointed by the proposals announced today. Ever since the merger we have been reassured that primary industries education would be a priority for the institution. Even as recently as six weeks ago the Chief Executive spoke to staff in Timaru about the importance of primary industry provision. The proposals leave my colleagues and fellow union members in Timaru feeling very uncertain about the future of their campus and other regional campuses.

“Many staff are also questioning Ara’s long-term commitment to the region having both had a commitment from management and a pledge from the National Government to ensure quality provision would be maintained. We will of course be doing everything we can to challenge these proposals and to ensure job losses are kept to a minimum.”

Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said:

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Tertiary Education, Paul Goldsmith, so he can explain what he plans to do about these proposals in light of the pledge made by his predecessor that the merger would lead to the highest quality tertiary education in the region. It’s about time National admitted that its tertiary education funding model is not working and that Paul Goldsmith’s plans to put it into law would be a disaster for local communities, as Timaru unfortunately is demonstrating yet again.”

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