Plans announced today by the management of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology to cut jobs because the institution did not meet narrow funding metrics is further evidence that the current tertiary education funding model is broken and failing to meet the needs of local communities.
Dr. Leon Fourie, Chief Executive of Toi Ohomai, notified staff today of his intention to “adjust” 18.4 full-time equivalent teaching roles across the institution. The job losses follow a large number of allied staff redundancies made by management last year, disproportionately impacting on women employed at the institution.
Rules imposed by the last National government penalise tertiary education institutions for not getting enough bums on seats. Instances where an institution enrols fewer than 99 percent of the students needed to meet its funding provision for the year, the institution must pay money back. Such rules destabilise institutions, and often force courses to close and jobs to be lost.
In a statement signed by staff, students and Chief Executives of polytechnics at last week’s the Voices from Tertiary Education forum the Minister was urged to change these rules in the forthcoming Budget, something he said he was open to doing .
Sharn Riggs, national secretary of the Tertiary Education Union, said:
“We are extremely disappointed with the Chief Executive’s announcement today. Current funding rules are based on meeting narrow, market-based metrics that ignore the huge contribution institutions like Toi Ohomai make to their communities. The Minister has been told by sector leaders, staff and students that this model needs to change, now’s the time to make it happen.
“Public institutions like Toi Ohomai are responsible for some of the most creative and innovative teaching in the country, and the funding model must support this. It is vital these institutions can continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in tertiary education and are not repeatedly destabilised by a funding model that has proven time and time again to be broken. Working with staff and the local community we will do as much as we can to urge Dr. Fourie to revisit these plans.”