The decision to cut five courses at the Ara Institute of Canterbury is symptomatic of an approach to tertiary education that is failing local communities, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) said today.
Management’s decision to cut five level 2 and 3 primary industry courses leaves six people out of a job and will deny future generations of Timaru students the opportunity to gain certain qualifications in the primary industries . Responding to the consultation that first proposed closing the courses, the TEU called on Ara to collaborate with the local community
on a long-term strategic approach to the future of primary industry training that would keep all five programmes open.
However, over the last five years, National has reformed the tertiary education funding model to allow the market a much greater say in what courses should be provided locally, rather than the communities themselves. Local provision of public tertiary education is, therefore, vulnerable to short-term market trends, rather than being contingent on what communities want for the future.
Commenting on the course cuts, Sharn Riggs, national secretary of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), said:
“We are extremely disappointed by today’s decision. Two years ago, National said the merger that established Ara would lead to the highest quality tertiary education in the South Canterbury region. They said it would lead to more educational choice, not less. The Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith now faces a choice: intervene to stop these courses closing and commit to a long-term plan for education in the region, or renege on your government’s pledge to the Timaru community.”