Dozens of outdoor education students have decided to stay at Aoraki Polytechnic, at least until the end of the week, writes the Timaru Herald.
About 40 students had planned to withdraw from their courses earlier this week because they said management had failed to address their concerns. Their course is in disarray after four of its five tutors went on sick leave, citing work-related stress as their reason. Three of the tutors have subsequently resigned.
Students told the Herald they had decided to wait before quitting, following a meeting with management yesterday afternoon. One student said a representative of the Tertiary Education Commission was at the meeting and his presence had helped ease students’ concerns.
Students had already approached Otago Polytechnic, CPIT and Tai Poutini Polytechnic about joining one of their programmes, and said each institution had been “extremely helpful”.
However most students have already financially committed to Timaru and most other institutions are also operating in a tightly capped environment and do not necessarily have places to offer. TEU has been talking to the commission advocating that all the students have access to a safe, well-staffed course.
TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs said that TEU is focused on making sure that the students got their education they needed and that Aoraki’s remaining staff could be sure they had safe well-respected jobs.
“The problems of workplace stress are widespread across all the campuses of the polytechnic, not just the outdoor recreation course. We are working with Aoraki to give all staff and students a safe, healthy place to work and study,” said Ms Riggs.