Mid-February is when we expect to hear what changes the Education Minister plans to make to institutes of technology and polytechnics, and the vocational education and training system more broadly.
The Minister’s announcement will kick-start what we expect to be a very brief consultation period of just six weeks before a final decision is then made.
One week before the Minister is expected to set out his plans, the Tertiary Education Union confirmed that it will publish its own recommendations for reform.
The recommendations will include putting in place a nationwide tiered network of vocational education and training provision, with ITPs at its heart. When putting this network in place, the Minister must also commit to ensuring that all regions have access to tertiary level learning opportunities, including ensuring the provision of levels 1 – 4 in every community.
In the event the Minister proposes to consolidate some parts of the ITP sector, which has long been expected, the TEU said he will need to ensure every campus, regardless of its location or proximity to other campuses, has an academic leader appointed who will work with staff to make decisions that will improve teaching, learning and research. Applications for out of region provision will also need to be stopped as will other forms of needless competition.
Education is a crucial part of all our lives – not only for us as individuals, but for all of us as a society.
It provides us with the builders that build our homes, the doctors or nurses that care for us, the teachers that teach our kids, the people that cut our hair and fix our cars, and those that are dedicated to ensuring we have clean running water and reliable power. Put simply, we interact with the tertiary education sector every day of our lives. The TEU will be calling on the Minister to put in place a system that recognises this, and funds it accordingly.
The same goes for ensuring that public funding supports the enormous generation of knowledge that takes place right across the sector – knowledge that informs everything from government policy to community projects. For this to happen, one step the Minister must take is to end all competitive funding and adopt the recommendations in the TEU’s recent report Funding the Future.