Long-term funding plan needed for Telford take-over

Posted By TEU on Jun 29, 2017 |

Lincoln University has confirmed plans for Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre to take-over its Telford campus, subject to ministerial approval.

Before signing-off on the agreement, the TEU called on Ministers to make sure a properly funded long-term plan is put in place that ensures continued provision of training opportunities in the region.

A statement of intent for the take-over was signed between Lincoln University and Taratahi back in January, but it has taken until now for an agreement to be reached between the two parties and the Telford Farm board of management.

Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said: “Losing the Telford campus altogether looked to be a possibility at one stage, so we are pleased to see a way forward. However, National’s track record of failing to adequately fund regional tertiary education provision does give us some cause for concern.”

The future of the campus has been up in the air since Lincoln announced it was withdrawing support at the end of last year, axing 17 jobs.

A number of Ministers and government agencies will now consider the detail of the new agreement, with a final decision expected in July.

According to their annual report, Taratahi posted losses of close to $400,000 last year.

Grey said this showed why “Ministerial approval must be backed with a properly funded plan that guarantees locally-focused, quality training opportunities for current and future generations of students.”

The TEU will also be working to make sure staff and students are not disadvantaged by the take-over.

Lincoln University’s chief commercial officer Phillip O’Callaghan told the Otago Daily Times: “We expect that current students will be able to complete their Lincoln qualification and that staff will be offered positions with Taratahi on their existing terms and benefits.”

The TEU urged Ministers and the new management to make sure this commitment was honoured.

“Before approving the agreement Ministers need to be mindful of the fact that the learning environment at Telford will only ever be as good as staff’s working environment. Keeping all the collective agreements that Telford staff are currently employed under is in TEU view is what a good employer would do rather than having some staff on individual agreements and some on a collective agreement.

“We also expect all new staff to be covered by a collective agreement, and that future settlements between staff and the new management do not erode these terms,” Kris Smith, organiser of the TEU branch at Telford, said.

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