Murray Strong has been appointed as Commissioner at Unitec with the task of addressing the financial difficulties facing the institution.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Monday that he was dissolving the Unitec Council and appointing Strong in its place.
Murray Strong is also the Government-appointed Crown Manager at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. In 2006, he was appointed Commissioner at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki.
Strong’s appointment will be followed with Ministerial appointments to a new advisory group that will support the Commissioner in exercising his functions, duties and powers.
Union members at Unitec are currently collating their ideas for what the Commissioner needs to focus on in his first few weeks on the job. These thoughts will be presented in a letter to Strong that will be published next week.
Unitec is facing a shortfall of close to $50 million over the next two years. The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has previously pointed out that the difficulties facing the institution are symptomatic of the failed approach of the last National-led Government.
It also draws into focus what staff had been saying for years – that the restructuring experiment embarked on by previous managers, with the blessing of former Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, was destined to fail.
Next week the TEU will publish an independent report it commissioned into the structural changes made by the previous executive leadership team.
The report will provide a serious warning to the tertiary sector, including other tertiary education institutions, Government, and the Tertiary Education Commission, about the implications of pursuing ideologically-driven market-based reforms against the advice of staff and the local community.