UCOL announces large cuts in wake of funding cuts

Posted By TEU on Oct 25, 2012 |

Tertiary Update Vol 15 No 37

UCOL is preparing to close 23 of its 110 programmes after learning that the Tertiary Education Commission has cut $2.6 million from its budget next year.

Next year UCOL loses funding for more than 10 percent of its students. It will lose 375 EFTS from the current 3,374. It is now looking to review, and probably close, a wide range of programmes at its Whanganui and Palmerston North campuses. TEU expects that approximately 33 equivalent full time staff could lose their jobs, but in real terms this will be up to 50 people directly affected.

The announcement follows a decision by the government earlier this year to put one-third of its level 1 and 2 student achievement funding up for tender – $38 million out of $115 million. When the minister announced the results of that tender process two-thirds of polytechnics had missed out on funding, as had other large level 1-2 providers like Lincoln University. The Tertiary Education Commission – the body that handled the tender process – admitted in its own documentation that it granted funding primarily on the basis of ‘value for money’ rather than quality of education.

Yesterday UCOL started a formal consultation process with staff who will be affected by its proposed changes. It will be reviewing Facilities Management, Tourism, Trades and Technology, Humanities & Business, Foundation and Fashion & Beauty programmes, and Computing. The polytechnic intends to make final decisions on its proposals by 21 November 2012.

UCOL’s chief executive Paul McElroy told staff in an email earlier this week that he believes  shifting Level 1 and 2 programme funding into a competitive model puts at risk our most vulnerable learners to the vagaries of the market, and is giving a clear signal for polytechnics to move out of these levels.

“Yet we know learners need to move through levels 1 and 2 to achieve at higher levels.”

TEU’s UCOL branch president Tina Smith says these courses provide the chance for people in Palmerston North to learn life skills and job skills from highly respected academics and effective teachers.

“The community and especially young people of this region are the losers from these governments funding cuts.”

“The government is forcing UCOL to throw away both students and staff. We can teach those students and they want to come to UCOL, but they won’t get the chance because the government won’t pay for it.”

Without knowing the impact of his funding experiment the minister for tertiary education said earlier this year that he would like to open more of that funding to competitive tender.

Tina Smith says that the minister now has the evidence that his funding experiment is not working and he should review it immediately.

“This competitive funding model is costing students the chance to learn in their local community, it’s costing good experienced teachers their jobs and its costing the government money. We should end the experiment now before any further damage is done.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Many other polytechnics also affected by foundation education cuts
  2. TEU elections start next week
  3. Open Polytechnic lecturers to take industrial action
  4. Victoria picks course with most Māori for biggest fee increases
  5. Students lose seat at commission table

Other news

Financial challenges have led Aoraki Polytechnic to appoint an adviser to look at its options. Independent adviser Malcolm Inglis has been given a wide brief to look at all options which will be presented to the Aoraki Polytechnic Council in December – Timaru Herald

“The National government’s decision to introduce a cut-price minimum wage for young people raises serious questions about the kind of workforce and economy they are creating for our next generation” – James Sleep, Convener of StandUp – the youth wing of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

Chinese students appealing to remain in New Zealand after their visa applications were found to contain fake qualifications and falsified bank statements are claiming to be victims of the fraud – The New Zealand Herald

Australian universities will not survive the next 10 to 15 years unless they radically overhaul their current business models, according to a report released today – The Conversation

This week, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released the 10th annual 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, focused on youth skills. It’ a 480-page tome chock-full of analysis and the statistics that allow us to measure progress in education – ONE

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