Uncertain future for Unitec student

Posted By TEU on Dec 5, 2013 | 2 comments

Tertiary Update Vol 16 No 42

A Unitec student, Simon Davis-Oakley contacted Tertiary Update this week to say that, as he enters his third ‘and most important’ year, Unitec is sacking the very lecturers whom he chose as mentors when he enrolled.

“This has, as you can understand, greatly affected what is part of my rehabilitation to become self-sufficient and get off the invalid’s benefit I am on.”

Simon Davis-Oakley is an adult student who enrolled at Unitec after seeing its 2011 advertisements specifically targeted at photography. He has received medical treatment for the past 10 years, and says Unitec’s stable environment helped him step ‘back into the world’. Now he says he is uncertain of his future.

“I would also like to point out that the government policy has removed specific representation requirements and has reduced the size of [polytechnic] councils to allow [the minister’s] appointees to hold the balance of power. This has happened at Unitec. Unitec is out voted on its own council by government appointed handlers,” said Simon Davis-Oakley.

Meanwhile TEU members met with Unitec’s chief executive Rick Ede yesterday, demanding he explain his decision to make 50 of his 53 design and visual arts staff redundant. The discussion was wide-ranging, with concern about:

  • masters students who will lose their supervisors,
  • the impact on the $3.4 million of PBRF funding that academics bring into the polytechnic,
  • the wisdom of using the design and visual arts department as a guinea pig to experiment upon,

TEU president Lesley Francey, who was at the meeting, said what Rick Ede proposes for Unitec has huge implications for the staff and students there.

“But it also has big implications for the rest of the country. We must not see this model of replacing professional, permanent teachers with casualised contractors from industry take hold”

“Teachers all have industry experience, but they also have teaching skills, an oversight of the entire curriculum, an understanding of assessment, and experience with teaching and learning. Education will suffer if Unitec throws those skills aside just so it can commercialise its links with industry,” said Lesley Francey.

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Victoria returns council seat to students
  2. Time to end perception of degrees for sale
  3. PISA results will impact tertiary education
  4. 24 jobs cut at Aoraki
  5. Growing poverty gap makes it harder for tertiary education
  6. Climate justice needed for workers

Other news

That the Government, represented by an accounting graduate from the University of Canterbury and a zoology graduate from Massey University, favoured science and engineering over the arts was not news. Many expected the bail-out money would come with strings attached and it was no secret that Canterbury vice-chancellor Rod Carr was also happy with that direction – The Press

My organisation [the OECD] is very strong on choice, enabling citizens to make choices, and you would expect that systems with greater choice would come out better. You expect competition to raise performance of the high performers and with low performers put them out of the market. But in fact, you don’t see that correlation… Competition alone is not a predictor for better outcomes.” – Andreas Schleicher, deputy education director of the OECD

With news of the eighth forestry worker killed at work this year alone, CTU president Helen Kelly is calling on minister of labour, Simon Bridges, for immediate interim regulation of the forestry industry’s employment practices to put a stop to the carnage – CTU

Regulators in Chile refuse to re-accredit the Universidad de Las Americas, a for-profit operation run by Laureate Inc. In their report, officials note the number of students grew by 36 percent in 3 years, but there was virtually no growth in the number of instructors – Inside Higher Ed


Thanks to Silena Griffin for the photo

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