Canterbury polytechnic merger must not cut corners

Posted By TEU on Jul 23, 2015 |

Tertiary Update Vol 18 No 24

A merger of Canterbury’s two polytechnics must be based on sound pedagogy, not financial pressure if it is to succeed, according to TEU’s submission on the proposed merger.

TEU members at the two polytechnics worked hard to draft a detailed submission to the chief executives of Aoraki Polytechnic and CPIT. The councils of both polytechnics are considering submissions now, and will soon announce merger plans which will then go as a recommendation to the minister for tertiary education.

TEU’s submission argues the pressure for this merger arises primarily because of sustained public underfunding of regional polytechnics.

“Reducing funding in the ITP sector has pushed several of our regional polytechnics to the brink of financial collapse, not because of poor decision-making or inefficient use of resources, but because they have been forced to do more with less for a sustained period of time.”

CPIT’s branch president Richard Draper says financial criteria need to be balanced against Canterbury’s tertiary education needs.

“If financial pressures override the  teaching, learning and support needs of staff and students, the new entity won’t be able to meet its responsibilities as the major public tertiary education provider for the region.”

Carol Soal, branch president at Aoraki says she sees there will probably be some advantages from the merger, such as coordinated administration, IT and library services and better resources for some programmes.

“But we think we need more transparency about how the merger will create a more financial security, especially the extent to which this will be achieved at the cost of some staff and some programmes or courses.”

Soal says she is pleased that the vision statement for the merger proposes bringing tertiary education to parts of Canterbury currently lacking such provision.

“TEU members are excited by this. But such provision will need more staff in new regional centres and offering of level 1-3 programmes to cater for geographically diverse students.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Participation rates plummet
  2. Victoria’s council plan silences staff
  3. Global congress says austerity hurting education
  4. University staff greatest donors to Australian higher education
  5. Contractors minimum wage bill deserves support

Other news

Aoraki Polytechnic may withdraw from its Dunedin campus following a proposed merger, but Otago Polytechnic could pick up the slack, the latter’s chief executive says.”We’re on the sidelines, waiting for the decision to be made,” Phil Ker said – Otago Daily Times

“The bullying, harassment stuff is something that features quite a bit in our sector,” TEU’s Waikato organiser Megan Morris  said. “I’m not sure if that’s because there’s a lot of pressure on people around workload. And a lot of that is driven externally by government funding or ministerial requirements.” – Waikato Times

Proposed changes to the University of Waikato council have the staff fighting to have more of its number around the table. Waikato has proposed a 12-member council, with staff membership going from three to one – plus the vice-chancellor.  But staff members fear their views may not get across and general staff won’t get a look in – Stuff

Rotorua’s Labour Party spokesperson Tamati Coffey wants Rotorua to become the “headquarters” for the region’s new polytechnic, if a planned merger goes ahead. He said any job losses would hurt Rotorua much more than they would Tauranga – Rotorua Daily Post

Rancour over the extent to which academics are obliged to bring in research grant income looks set to spark industrial action at the University of Birmingham – Times Higher Education Supplement

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