It’s time to end the market experiment

Posted By TEU on Sep 6, 2018 | 2 comments

Tertiary Update – Vol 21 No 16

It’s time to end the market experiment

Job losses, bail-outs, commissioners, merger investigations, and another for-profit provider falling over are all signals that it’s time to end the market experiment in the tertiary education sector and develop a funding model that supports long-term stability in the interests of the public.

“Currently our tertiary education system is based on chasing a ‘share of the student market’ and this is having dire consequences for students, communities, and staff,’ said Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU.

“The outcome of this market approach is being seen now. Cuts to courses which are often crucial to our country’s future, such as teacher education, and job cuts which see committed staff being forced out of the sector are robbing us all of their expertise and knowledge.”

As a TEU member noted after the Minister of Education proposed to appoint a commissioner to replace the council of Weltec and Whitireia, “Education cannot survive and grow if it is treated like a supermarket using just-in-time strategies. We need targeted investment for the future and pressure needs to be fed back to the Government to change the broken funding model so we can plan for growth as well as times of hardship too.”

Currently TEU is dealing with reviews which see over 30 people affected at the University of Auckland, over 100 roles in scope to be disestablished at Unitec, 40 positions under a cloud at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, there is a proposal to reduce around 40 positions at AUT’s society and culture faculty, and the closure of art history at the University of Otago.

Added to this 25 staff have lost their jobs and over 130 students are now unable to finish their qualifications because private provider Avonmore Tertiary Institute has gone into voluntary liquidation.

Avonmore Director Mike Hardley told Newshub, “It’s taken us a long time to reach this conclusion and this is been worked over for many months and we’ve arrived at this decision because we don’t believe we’ve got an economic and viable model moving forward.”

Continuous underfunding of tertiary education by the last National government, the political decision to push tertiary education institutions into being businesses competing for students, and the drive to see universities, ITPs, and wānanga as factories churning out workers, have all played a part in the current chaotic state.

In many cases the cuts are deepest in the humanities and social sciences. The last government spent nine years telling New Zealand that the only way to go was to take STEM subjects, or to take subjects that had the right ‘economic’ outcomes. This is having an on-going impact on our humanities and social science faculties.

Grey argues “We need a rethink of how we talk about the choices ahead of students to ensure long-term we all have access to faculties focused on crucial questions around human and social change, as well as ones focused on the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

“A tertiary education system that is genuinely there for students, their families, and our society is broader than the government of the day’s economic agenda.”

The best outcome from all of the reviews will be a rethink by institutions of how to ensure a long-term future for the widest range of disciplines and subject matters. But we also need the government to act now on its agreement to change the funding model which is clearly failing us all.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. It’s time to end the market experiment
  2. The #LivingWage, domestic violence leave, and decent pay
  3. Kōrero Mātauranga needs more work
  4. Counting everything, valuing nothing?

The #LivingWage, domestic violence leave, and decent pay

The AUT TEU Branch launched a petition this week to push for a living wage for all employees and contract workers at the university.

Irena Brorens advocate for the collective agreement negotiations said “Every worker at AUT deserves a wage that allows them to live, not just survive. AUT agreed last year to pay all permanent  and fixed term staff a living wage rate , however some workers are still missing out at AUT and we are campaigning to change this during this round of bargaining .”

“We’re asking staff, students, and alumni to sign the petition asking AUT to pay the living wage for all who work at AUT whether as AUT employees, or as employees of those who contract services to AUT,” said Brorens “With the Wellington City Council and several schools becoming Living Wage employers recently, we want AUT to step up and do the right thing. If we really are a community that supports social justice and equity, it’s time to put that into the pay rates for all who work on our campuses.”

AUT is one of five universities where TEU members are currently in collective agreement negotiations with their employers – the others are at the universities of Canterbury, Waikato, Otago, and Lincoln University.

“We’ve been pleased to see the positive responses to domestic violence leave provisions from a number of employers,” noted TEU’s industrial officer Irena Brorens, “and the passing of Jan Logie’s Bill surely gives further impetus for employers to provide the victims of domestic violence the space they need to move out of dangerous relationships.”

Brorens said the issue of pay increases is proving more difficult.

Despite the significant pay increases that some VCs have received over the few last years and the surpluses that have been recorded in annual reports, members are having to push hard to get recognition of the work they do.

“We are,  determined to ensure that salaries in the sector reflect the fact that staff working conditions are students’ conditions of learning, and staff are working hard to make sure students get all they need.”

Kōrero Mātauranga needs more work

Over 100 postcards on ways to ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi is given effect in the reshaping of the education sector have been added to the Education Conversation.

This week the Ministry of Education acknowledged the contributions made by TEU members after the union’s national conference and noted they are now with the Ministry as part of Kōrero Mātauranga – The Education Conversation.

Members used the union’svalues-based framework Te Koeke Tiriti to write to the Minister for Crown/Māori Relations and Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education), Kelvin Davis, looking at how the values outlined in the framework could be applied to ensure all New Zealanders benefit from education founded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

TEU members have also been extended invitations to attend Māori regional wānanga and to share the details with networks by the MoE who note, “we need our whānau and hapori Māori to get along to these huihui so that their voices and whakaaro are heard in developing and maintaining mātauranga Māori moving forward.”

Lee Cooper, TEU’s Te Pou Tuarā, said “It’s pleasing to see some dedicated space for Māori to talk about education, but we have to make sure all of the reviews in the education sector put Te Tiriti o Waitangi and kaupapa Māori teaching, learning and research approaches at the centre.”

“We have communicated to the Minister of Education our disappointment that the ITP Roadmap consultations seemed to have been lacking in engagement with tauira (Te Mana Ākonga) and kaimahi Māori (general and academic), and hope the next phases are far more inclusive of Māori voices. If we design the ITP sector just on what works for Pākehā in the first instance and add Māori ways of knowing afterwards, we will not address some of the systemic racism which persists in Aotearoa NZ.”

Cooper said, “Here’s hoping that we learn from the ITP Roadmap and ensure all reviews of tertiary education have up-front time to think about our Tiriti relationships and ensuring te ao Māori is used as a foundation for designing teaching, learning, and research spaces that reflect Māori needs.”

Counting everything, valuing nothing?

The Tertiary Education Commission is set to launch the latest measurement of the outputs of tertiary education called MyQ amid criticism from vice-chancellors and the TEU.

MyQ is a survey that asks recent graduates to rate how well their qualification prepared them for work and whether they would recommend it to others.

The survey covers the entire tertiary education sector and data for national qualifications will be released publicly. However, universities are blocking the publication of institutional results that rate the usefulness of hundreds of their courses.

Universities New Zealand director Chris Whelan said statisticians had advised that the survey would have a high margin of error and disgruntled students could skew the outcomes for some courses.

On RNZ’s Nine-to-Noon TEU’s national president Sandra Grey urged the TEC to put publication warnings on the data advising how to interpret it.

Grey queried whether we needed to spend $1.6 million on a blunt tool like MyQ when we already have significant layers of counting, measuring, and evaluation of quality in the sector.

“We would be better putting additional funding and support into student associations who are the genuine voice of students, if we want to understand and improve learning experiences.”

Grey said, “We need to have a serious conversation about how wrong-headed it is to go on measuring things just because they can be measured.”

Other news

The assumption that universities exist to respond to student demand has corrupted the way in which they operate, writes Greg Dawes- ODT

The select committee looking at the composition of TEI council’s has reported back to parliament – Parliament.

It’s Tongan language week – you can find useful resources on the TEU website, our Facebook page, and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

This week Sandra Grey responded to a column by University of Auckland vice chancellor Stuart McCutcheon acknowledging he was right, management of tertiary education institutions is necessary, but using managerialism as the tool for managing institutions is not – TEU.

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