Two options presented for future of West Coast tertiary education

Posted By TEU on Aug 10, 2017 |

Securing the future of tertiary education and vocational training on the West Coast has come down to two options, the Chief Executive of Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Alex Cabrera, said this week.

Tai Poutini Polytechnic is currently run by a Crown Manager who was appointed at the end of last year following concerns about the institution’s finances in the wake of government funding cuts.

Two potential options for the future tertiary education on the West Coast emerged this week, following consultation with the local community.

First, that Tai Poutini Polytechnic joins with another tertiary education organisation, or second, that it establishes a new community-focused tertiary organisation.

A report outlining the options was handed to the Minister Paul Goldsmith in July. Earlier this week, in a meeting with Crown Manager Murray Strong and Cabrera, Goldsmith asked that the two options be explored further.

Strong and Cabrera have been asked to produce a Business Case for both options before the end of the year.

Cabrera has suggested the business case would need to support the government’s recent response to the Productivity Commission’s report New Models of Tertiary Education.

Included in the government’s response was a commitment to consider asking tertiary providers to compete in a tendering process for the right to supply education and training opportunities to communities, as well as encouraging Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics to compete with one another.

“We are pleased progress is being made to secure the future provision of tertiary education on the West Coast. However, this should not happen within the confines of National’s market-orientated response to the Productivity Commission. In many ways, the response set out to expand the free-market approach that has seen some ITPs close courses in small rural and regional communities. This is the last thing we want on the West Coast,” Sandra Grey, national president of the Tertiary Education Union, said.

Cabrera has committed to working closely with the local community to explore which of the two options will work best for future learners.

“We really welcome this commitment. Ensuring staff at the institution also have an opportunity to input is crucial, as their expertise will be invaluable to ensuring West Coasters continue to have access to quality tertiary education and vocational training,” Grey said.

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