The Tertiary Education Union will shortly publish a paper making clear its bottom lines when it comes to reform of institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs).
The paper will outline what will need to happen if the Minister decides, as expected, to consolidate the sector and establish a much smaller number of polytechnics.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins told Parliament recently that he intends to take a paper to Cabinet by the end of the year with recommendations for the future of ITPs. The cabinet paper will outline the Minister’s intended way forward for ITPs following the roadmap 2020 project undertaken by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).
Alongside students and sector leaders, the Tertiary Education Union was part of a co-design working group established to inform the roadmap review. It was also thanks to the TEU that the TEC travelled to every polytechnic in the country to hear directly from students and staff.
Recommendations emerging out this process were put to the Minister without first tabling them with the co-design working group, a decision that has caused consternation among some participants and undermines the purpose of co-design.
The TEU wrote to the TEC requesting that the co-design group be reconvened, but this was turned down.
Parts of the ITP sector have experienced severe difficulties over the past 12 months, many of which can be traced back to the policy decisions of the last National Government.
In one recent example, it has been proposed that WelTec and Whitireia are merged. The TEU has made clear in its submission to a consultation on the proposal that it doesn’t make sense to proceed with the merger at a time when the future of the sector is so uncertain, particularly if the two institutions are to be part of a larger merger proposal as a result of decisions from the ITP Roadmap project.