Plans to contract out the functions of Waikato Pathways College could put jobs at risk.
The college, based at the university campus in Hamilton, offers university preparation courses, and foundation and English language programmes, and recruits international students.
Management at the University of Waikato announced last week its intention to hand over the running of the college to a private provider, the second time it has attempted to do so.
Senior deputy vice-chancellor Alister Jones told the New Zealand Herald that the plan was to contract out the functions of the college to a globally recognised provider. He said this would make the college more competitive in a challenging pre-degree market.
The Herald reported that the new provider would be responsible for strategic planning, marketing, international student recruitment, the delivery/teaching of programmes and associated management, support and administration and would be the employer of any staff undertaking those functions.
Shane Vugler, organiser of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) branch at the University of Waikato, said staff were worried going through another period of uncertainty so soon after the first attempt to contract out the functions of the college failed.
“Staff obviously don’t know what is going to happen to their jobs and this uncertainty causes an awful lot of stress for them and their families. We will be doing everything we can to protect jobs and to ensure that any new provider keeps staff on the same terms of employment as they currently have,” Vugler said.
Sharn Riggs, national secretary of the TEU, said the university would be taking a huge risk if it handed over essential functions to a private provider.
“We know that the privatisation of important services in the tertiary education sector does not work. Just look at what happened at Unitec. There, management pressed ahead with plans to privatise core services despite repeated warnings from staff. It then had to bring the services back in house last year because it was such a failure. What happened at Unitec should be a lesson to all institutions about the dangers of privatisation,” Riggs said.