Management at NorthTec have failed to provide sufficient evidence to justify plans to cut jobs and courses, and to close the institution’s Rawene and Kerikeri campuses.
Management has also failed to provide an analysis of why the affected programmes, courses and campuses have been earmarked for change or closure.
The lack of evidence available to justify the misguided cuts was revealed by the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) in its response to a consultation on the proposals.
NorthTec management wants to make cuts to the institution’s programmes, including business administration and computing, and construction programmes. It also plans to close entirely NorthTec’s sport and recreation, tourism and visual arts courses.
The closure of Rawene and Kerikeri campuses will also mean in the future that the local community misses out on a range of learning opportunities, including in marine and environmental tourism, business and pre-trade construction.
Little information has been provided by management about the performance of the programmes earmarked for cuts, whilst the financial criteria used to define a course as unviable has not been made clear.
A misinterpretation of comparative academic staffing data has also been used by management to justify the loss of up to 50 jobs as a result of its planned cuts.
NorthTec has a high number of lower paid staff compared to most other institutions.
Management’s plans are at odds with the likely direction of the new government, suggesting that they have been shaped by looking back at the misguided policy and funding decisions of the National government.
The policy framework already outlined by the Labour-led Government does nothing to suggest a downward trend in student numbers. In particular, there has been an undertaking to begin a first year of free study which the government estimates will lead to a 15 percent increase in domestic enrolments.
The TEU has called on NorthTec management to revisit its planned cuts in light of the direction of the new government.
Failure to do so will put the institution on the back foot in terms of its ability to deliver to new domestic students. It will also make it much harder for the new education minister, Chris Hipkins, to deliver his own priorities for the sector.
Management’s plans for the future of NorthTec would also have a significant impact on whether the new Labour-led Government can deliver its regional development priorities.
Educating and training local talent through community based public education institutions is one of the most effective ways that the government can support the regions. However, the TEU criticised the approach taken by management, saying it was the changes would narrow the provision of tertiary education, much like the previous National government sought to do right across the sector.
Instead of allowing courses to close that provide a viable pathway to further study or employment for the people of Northland, the new government could work with management to put in place a plan for the future that will support people to develop skills, learn trades, and create knowledge. This will help families and whānau, local communities and the Northland economy.