Staff at Whitireia and Weltec are making a stand for a quality vocational
education system that places communities at its centre. The TEU maintains
this can only be achieved if there is a strong plan that involves students,
staff, and community.
Staff at the two Wellington based institutions began their campaign earlier
this week with a petition demanding that the Chief Executive use the
knowledge and creativity of all staff. Their actions come as the leadership
of the institutions announces reviews which will see job cuts in
engineering and student services.
TEU National President, Michael Gilchrist, says with the review of
vocational education underway, the actions of the senior leadership at
Whitireia and Weltec is premature.
“We need to be putting our energies into getting right the long-term
funding model and structures which will ensure quality vocational education
in all communities. The Minister of Education can help by providing
transition funding and a long awaited review of the funding model, a model
that Chris Hipkins agrees is broken”.
Gilchrist says institutional leaders can help plan for the future by
working with students, staff, and communities rather than slashing jobs.
“Cutting expenditure by over 15%, including cuts in student support
services won’t help students or the institutions. Slashing courses in
engineering makes no sense when the government is looking at making
polytechnics responsible for in-work training and apprentices. With the
Reform of Vocational Education being reported back in a few months, it
seems reckless to cut services now that will be needed in the future”.
As well as the petition, staff and students will be working to highlight
how crucial support services are to learning and well-being.
James Ranstead, NZUSA President, says that both the government and
institutional leaders need to understand that support services are a right,
not a ‘nice-to-have’. “Our report into mental health and conversations with
students daily indicate just how crucial support services are”.
“It’s only by working together – staff, students, institutional leaders,
and government – that we’ll ensure students have quality education in the
places they live”, says Gilchrist.