Manukau Institute of Technology’s commercial training division, EnterpriseMIT, has been the subject of a 14-month investigation.
Three EnterpriseMIT courses were under investigation, according to the New Zealand Herald.
These include KeyStep, an outreach programme for young people who have disengaged from school, training or work, a finfish aquaculture course and a skippers’ course designed for the commercial fishing industry.
A subsidiary of MIT, EnterpriseMIT is no longer operating after it was closed at the end of last year in the wake of a critical draft report into the investigation.
In a statement, MIT confirmed an investigation into KeyStep was carried out after allegations were made by two former students that a tutor had completed assessments on their behalf.
The institution said it could not comment on the outcome of this particular investigation because of its confidential nature.
MIT also declined to comment on the current TEC investigation into the possible breach of funding rules, as the commission’s report has not been finalised.
The TEC also said it could not comment until the investigation was complete, probably later this year.
However, it appears from the report in the Herald that the allegations being looked into as part of this investigation were serious enough that TEC funding for EnterpriseMIT was refused.
Sharn Riggs, secretary of the Tertiary Education Union, said the allegations were very worrying, but added that they point to wider concerns about how the tertiary education sector is funded.
“These allegations fit with a pattern we’ve seen emerge under National where staff are put under increasing pressure to pass students. In March, we published the results of a survey showing that this pressure has increased as a result of reforms introduced by National which increase competition in the sector and tie funding to student performance,” Riggs said.
Riggs added: “We obviously do not condone the sort of behaviour alleged in media reports this week, but it would be wise to look at them in a wider context and to take the time to draw the obvious connections between what National is doing to public tertiary education and these alleged behaviours.
“Paul Goldsmith is trying to push through Parliament a change to education law that could make this much worse. He should learn the lessons that are evident from this situation and withdraw his plans to increase competition in the sector, instead making sure funding is based on stable broad-based public provision across the sector.”
The TEU also said that following the closure of KeyStep, Paul Goldsmith should make a statement about what he plans to do to make sure the needs of young people in the region are to be met if they are to be reintroduced to education and later employment.