Wānanga responds to performance funding pressure

Posted By TEU on Aug 26, 2010 |

Tertiary Update Vol 13, No 32

Bentham Ohia, the pouhere at the Wānanga o Aoteaora, is advising staff to concentrate on ensuring that tauira are enrolled in the right programme, that they graduate, and, where possible, that they pathway onto a higher level programme.

This advice follows news that the Tertiary Education Commission will be releasing rankable data on each tertiary education institution, including rates of successful course and qualification completions, student progressions to higher levels of study, and proportions of students retained in study.

The Wānanga is responding to new government policy that makes 5 percent of overall funding contestable, based on how each institution performs against these criteria. The Wānanga believes that it will meet the required standards, but nevertheless is warning staff to focus on getting potential students into programmes they are most likely to graduate from.

TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan says that te Wānanga is responding logically to the incentives and pressures the government is putting upon it. “I’m sure that other institutions will be doing the same thing, encouraging staff to look very carefully at how and where they are enrolling students.”

“But there also are dangers with such approaches. As the stakes are raised through public league tables and even higher levels of contestable funding, potential students from demographic groups that are known to have lower success rates may find themselves being discouraged from enrolling,” said Dr Ryan.

“It would be a shame if the government’s reforms leads to a situation where it becomes harder, rather than easier, for young people from non-standard or less privileged backgrounds to get started in tertiary education.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Ministry shrinks, 100 staff to lose jobs
  2. Minister explains cuts to refugee and migrant grants
  3. Lincoln-Telford merger in minister’s hands
  4. Massey cleaners challenge being sacked

Other news

Just over a quarter of the staff in the University of Otago’s design department will lose their jobs, the university says. In a statement on Tuesday, the university said there would be an overall reduction of 5.5 full-time equivalent staff – 3.8 academic positions and 1.7 general staff positions – Otago Daily Times

The CTU determination to stick by workers unfairly dismissed under the 90 day law delivered results this week when the Employment Court found young pharmacy worker Heather Smith had been unjustifiably dismissed by her employer. But the court also said that the employer’s failure to treat her in good faith or to comply with her employment agreement gave her several grounds for compensation. Heather Smith’s case was highlighted recently by the CTU and is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/NZCTU

A year of belt tightening has seen Witt post its first surplus in seven years. The surplus of $1.2 million was an improvement of almost $4m from the polytech’s 2008 loss. Chief executive Richard Handley both said “The much improved cash position has enabled us to undertake a modest but well overdue campus development programme” – Taranaki Daily News

The Ministry of Education has released a report exploring what digital information literacy is and how it could be most effectively dealt with in tertiary education. It identifies methods for developing adults’ digital skills and capabilities, and for understanding how these contribute to lifelong learning. The report’s key findings are that having dedicated time, institutional support, and the opportunity to experiment with a range of ICT tools were essential for developing digital information literacy. The research showed that this could be achieved in a relatively short and intensive period of professional development, and that this could result in significant changes to participants’ digital information behaviour and skills. – Education Counts

The British University and College Union says that a minister’s advice to students to lower their university ambitions makes a mockery of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s pledge to encourage social mobility. The universities minister, David Willetts, was under fire last week after telling students to lower their sights and apply to ‘less competitive’ universities. UCU said it was astounded at the coalition government’s ‘insulting’ response to students hit by the crisis over university places – UCU

Australian staff seeking pay rises at more than half the country’s universities have taken more than 50 days of industrial action. More unrest is threatened as they fight for pay increases of 16 per cent to 18 per cent over their four year agreement periods. The National Tertiary Education Union yesterday was to give formal notice of a work ban during the University of NSW’s open day next month, with the University of Newcastle expected to face the same. This follows last week’s 24-hour stoppage at the University of South Australia and rolling stoppages at the University of Queensland – The Australian

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by email or feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day, email: http://scr.im/stephenday

Thanks to Phillip Capper @ Flickr for the image
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