48 Hours to have your say on the Reform of Vocational Education

Posted By TEU on Apr 3, 2019 | 1 comment

Together we stopped the last government from further privatising of
tertiary education. Now we need to keep working together to ensure
life-long learning is accessible to New Zealanders no matter where they
live, their past education or work experiences, or their learning needs.

We hope you can take a few moments to help design the future of vocational
education provision in New Zealand.

The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has proposed major changes for
vocational education and training:

  • The establishment of a single New Zealand polytechnic with a plan to
    increase the spaces in which teaching and learning occurs.
  • The return for industry training organisations to a core role of setting
    industry standards for training and education, while polytechnic staff
    provide teaching and learning in workplaces, online, and on campuses.
  • A unified vocational education funding system that would recognise that
    one size does not fit all types of training or all places of where
    education is provided.

It’s time to think big. Let the Minister know what you would put in place
to ensure that all students in New Zealand have access to quality,
vocational education and training.

Please make sure you go online and fill out the Tertiary Education
Commission survey or fill in the short feedback form focusing on the three main proposals which you email to Vocationaleducation.Reform@education.govt.nz
Submissions on the Reform of Vocational Education proposal are due on 5

Here are a few ideas of what’s important to staff in the sector:

  • Public and community providers that have dual professionals in charge of teaching and learning are the appropriate place to meet the learning needs of all students – on-job, on-campus, and online.
  • We think that the new structure – whatever it will be – needs to be a Tiriti o Waitangi-led organisation. Tell the TEC what that looks like for you.
  • In order to ensure sound decision-making we should be setting out who should be on the regional leadership groups. Local industry representatives are in the plan already. What about staff and student voice? Or iwi voice? Set out your ideal group for making regional decisions.
  • We have always maintained staff voice is needed at all levels of decision-making and this includes councils. Any council should have 1/3 staff and students; 1/3 government appointments (divided between the crown and Māori); and, 1/3 community and business.
  • The importance of distinctiveness, local connections, and local autonomy are crucial to mention in any submission. The new system could set these out clearly in legislation, in policy, and in charters describing decision-rights. What sort of decision-rights would you want to have as a staff member? Set them out for TEC and explain why these would ensure better outcomes for learners, industry, and community.
  • The new model gives Industry Skills Bodies the power to set skill standards and approve programmes in vocational education (though not degrees or postgraduate qualifications). We must ensure that our academic freedom and professional autonomy is protected. That means qualifications and courses must be industry informed, but not industry driven.

The Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins has made it clear that change is
coming. Our priority now is to come together to make sure the reforms work
for us and our students, our communities, and industry. This is a challenge
that requires all of us. Please have your say.

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1 Comment

  1. I applaud the minister on the bold and innovative decision to form one national polytechnic. I hope this is a move towards improved regional provision with a focus on courses that are tailored to meet specific local needs. I hope there is a move away from large regional centres and a move towards fostering local economic development through a steady steam of graduates who are trained to understand their local, national and international marketplace and innovate within it. I hope that local centres of excellence become learning hubs that are the basis of community development and from where local people are empowered to take a strong footing within the wider vocational marketplace.

    It is my hope that the current ‘top heavy’ model applied in our polytechs, which are currently run by large and expensive management structures, are replaced with an educationalist framework that is focused towards educational excellence and empowered to ensure that funding is spent on meeting educational needs rather than a management structure.

    I would expect that new leadership would be important in the development of a more educationalist framework, so it would be therefore my hope to see a return to an emphasis on Academic and Research excellence as a high priority when employing the people who would build this framework.

    It is my view that the managerialist structure we have seen applied in the last decade or so, has led to an erosion of educational standards and an even deeper drop in the morale of tutors as tutorial staff were forced to survive in an environment where the student is as an opportunity to make profit while the tutor is a cost to be minimised.

    The competitive funding model has also often led to competitive and unhealthy work environments within the sector; it is my hope that education is returned to a place of mana and aroha within our communities, as a result of these proposed changes. This somewhat hostile work environment in many educational facilities is evidenced by the teacher and tutor shortages we are seeing nationwide as the role of the tutor has been increasingly degraded, underpaid and undervalued over the last years.

    The decline in educational standards has been compensated for under the existing model, with a drive to add in ever increasing amounts of monitoring, cross monitoring and recording, further adding to tutor workload. This waste of human resources has a direct impact on the quality of teaching and learning as tutors struggle to mete out their time between an every increasing level of recording and higher classroom numbers. Whilst monitoring is of course essential on some level, it cannot compensate for a degradation in the quality of education itself, which we can observe as polytechs have devolved resources, cut courses, kept tutor pay stagnant, and continually increased staff to student ratio’s in an effort to remain viable.

    Finally, the merging of several institutes nationwide, that has taken place over the last few years has often proved to be disastrous for one, if not both of the merged institutions. In cases such as the merge between the former Bay of Plenty Polytech in Tauranga and Waiariki Institute in Rotorua, the merge has resulted in an inequity of resourcing and inequity of access to education for one rohe, in this case Rotorua. Communities within Rotorua have some of the worst poverty statistics of anywhere in New Zealand so the educational needs of this community are much higher to those of the affluent and largely white middle class rohe of Tauranga. Instead of meeting local needs and improving opportunities for the people of Rotorua the merge has further disenfranchised the community as courses have been cut, and funding and equipment moved to Tauranga.

    It is my hope that one national institute will refocus education where it is needed, rather than where it could more conveniently reside. It is my hope that the regional development and prosperity of rohe such as Rotorua, Whanganui, Whangarei, and areas outside the main centres, will be fostered under this new development, leading to the greater health, well being and economic prosperity of our nation as a whole.

    Nga mihi nui,

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