Plans announced today for massive job cuts at NorthTec are symptomatic of National’s misguided approach to funding tertiary education and can be avoided with the support of the new government, the Tertiary Education Union said today.
Management at NorthTec notified staff this afternoon of a planned restructure of the institution that would leave over 50 dedicated members of staff without a job and the potential closure of the Rawene and Kerikeri campuses. The planned cuts are a consequence of years of government underfunding and a policy approach that has made locally-focused tertiary education vulnerable to short-term market trends, rather than being contingent on what communities want for the future. Some jobs will also be lost as a direct result of the recent takeover of primary industry training in the region by a private provider, an outcome facilitated in large part by National’s policy approach.
The new Labour-led government’s commitment to public, community-focused provision of tertiary education does offer some hope for NorthTec, however. The TEU has requested an urgent meeting with Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, to discuss the benefits of injecting short-term funding into NorthTec so that large numbers of people do not have to fear losing their job and a plan for the future can be put in place.
Sandra Grey, national president of the Tertiary Education Union, said: “We are extremely disappointed by today’s announcement. National’s approach to funding tertiary education was to allow the market a much greater say in what courses should be provided locally, rather than the communities themselves. However, the change of government has brought with it hope for a new approach to how our sector is funded, one that prioritises education that is public, local and focused on learning, not profit. We have been buoyed by the vision of the new education ministers and we will be encouraging them to put this into practice straight way at NorthTec. It is disappointing that National’s policy has brought us to this point, but there is a huge opportunity now to do things differently so we can build a better, fairer tertiary education system.”