Minister offers to lean on polytechnic to change its funding

Posted By TEU on Jul 8, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13 No 25

TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs says it seems irregular that the minister of tertiary education, Steven Joyce, would openly suggest that Wanganui Council sever the links between its Glass School and UCOL so that it could be run as private business, or PTE. Ms Riggs says it is also astonishing that the minister has, according to the Dominion Post, offered to “lean” on the Tertiary Education Commission to make sure it held talks with UCOL about reallocating funding.

“If the news reports are true I think the minister has overstepped the mark,” said Ms Riggs. “The minister should be protecting and improving our public education system not telling local mayors to privatise parts of it.”

Wanganui mayor Michael Laws told the Dominion Post that the council-owned Glass School’s growth and viability is being stifled by the government funding cap on student numbers. He is arguing that UCOL, which runs the school on behalf of the council, reallocate internal funding to increase the Glass School’s number of government-funded places from 24 to 40.

Mr Laws and other Wanganui councillors asked Mr Joyce to lobby UCOL on their behalf.

The glass school was the only one of its kind in the country and was vital to Whanganui’s desire to be known as a centre of excellence for artistry, Mr Laws told Mr Joyce.

“The Wanganui Glass School is a unique part of Wanganui and of New Zealand” said Ms Riggs. “But that does not mean that the minister should be interfering in how the commission or local polytechnics allocate funding.  And he certainly should not be using this as an opportunity to privatise a part of our public education system.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. PBRF to favour business research
  2. New qualifications framework launched
  3. Massey and Canterbury redundancies hurting universities
  4. Initiative to help carers keep their jobs

Other news

In bargaining news the ITP MECA ballot closes this afternoon.  We will have the results on the TEU website as soon as they are to hand.  TEU has also initiated for individual site bargaining at most universities around the country.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce is not worried by the 30 percent increase in student allowance costs this year but he expected demand for the allowance to gradually decrease over the next few years. “It’s a balancing act because student numbers do tend to go up in a recession, but it’s not something the Government is worried about. Our main focus is the academic benefits,” he said – Dominion Post

A member of the Zimbabwe Universities Lecturers Association says that that education needs to be urgently addressed. “For the past two years, some universities including the biggest, University of Zimbabwe, have failed to open on the scheduled times for a number of times. Three quarters of the qualified staff has gone for greener pastures and students do not have decent accommodation.” – The Zimbabwean

Staff at Melbourne’s Victoria University are locked in a bitter dispute with management over pay rises, with the university moving to dock the wages of academics participating in union work bans. The National Tertiary Education Union says university management have told staff that a pay increase cannot be afforded this year – The Age

The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating may be here at the testing center of the University of Central Florida. No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside – Chronicle of Higher Education

The Australian Qualifications Framework council has rejected the University of Melbourne’s plans to badge some new masters-level degrees as doctorates. The council argues that the new professional degrees in health will diminish their status. The stand-off between Melbourne and the AQF has triggered a sector-wide debate about the integrity of academic titles – The Australian

The Scientist magazine names its top US and international universities at which to be an academic. Sadly none of them are in New Zealand.

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