NZQA’s decision to downgrade the confidence it has in the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki’s (WITT) ability to provide quality education is symptomatic of a tertiary education system under immense strain, the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union said today.
Published on Friday, NZQA’s latest External Evaluation and Review (EER) downgraded WITT to a category three, indicating it is “not yet confident” in the institution’s education performance or self-assessment. The downgrade is a sharp fall from five years ago, when NZQA concluded in its last review that it was “highly confident” in the institution.
Less than one month ago, Unitec was also downgraded from category one to category two, indicating that the NZQA had lost some of the confidence it previously had in the institution’s capability to provide quality education performance and self-assessment.
Responding to the downgrades, TEU national president, Sandra Grey, said
“the WITT downgrade, following so soon after Unitec’s, is a clear indication that our tertiary education system is under strain. Policies put in place by the National Government have led to inadequate funding models and auditing systems that are negatively impacting upon our public tertiary providers.
“As the NZQA quite rightly points out, staff in these institutions are highly motivated and make an invaluable contribution to educational achievement. However, the reports also show they are overworked and urgently need significant improvements in how leadership is approached in their organisations.
“As the hard work of turning these institutions around begins, we worry that the senior team will place more demands upon an already overworked and stressed staff. We are seeing increasing numbers of tutors leave because of illness and stress that results from the poor management and leadership identified in the reports. Increasing demands on staff will not only make our members ill, but will impact negatively on their families, and of course students.
“NZQA made a number of recommendations for addressing some of the issues at WITT and the TEU urges management to ensure that the rebuilding is not done on the backs of staff, but that they are given a central role in future decision-making.”