MPs on Select Committee gathered for the second of their public evidence sessions yesterday morning.
Over the course of two hours the Committee heard from people working or studying in the sector, the Chief Executive of the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Chris Collins, and the TEU.
Wayne Linklater from Victoria University told MPs that public institutions were more, not less, adaptable than for-profit private providers.
Private providers are constrained by their need to make a profit and cannot adapt to changes in the sector in the same way public institutions can, he said.
Dr. Sean Sturm, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, pointed out that the Bill was proposing solutions to non-existent problems.
Jill Jones, president of the TEU branch at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), told MPs there had been an increase in the number of staff employed under casual contracts, and that this could get much worse if the reach of private providers extends, as the Bill intends.
Jones also said private providers have also been known to turn to MIT with requests to use their facilities to deliver their programmes, thus drawing on public infrastructure to support their profit-making endeavours.
Following the TEU’s opening statement, National MP, Jo Goodhew, asked a confusing question that implied she thought a student’s learning environment would not be adversely affected by a worsening of staff working conditions.
Reflecting the concerns raised in the open letter to the Committee chair published earlier in the week, EIT Chief Executive, Chris Collins, said he was concerned that the Ministry of Education had hurried the Bill.
He said the Minister and the Bill’s supporters have claimed the legislation is making only technical changes to the sector, when what is actually on the table is a substantive shift in how funding is allocated.
Collins also pointed out the Bill would actually reduce the flexibility of the government to provide differential funding to institutions, as they would be constrained to providing the exact same rate to both private and public providers.