BIM media release 24/2/2021

Improved funding, freedom and fairness for the tertiary education sector are urgent priorities for the Labour Government in order for Aotearoa to ‘build back better’ from the impact of COVID-19 now, and into the future.

To support Minister of Education Chris Hipkins to deliver the changes needed in the tertiary education sector, Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union has today handed over a Briefing paper to the Minister.

The Briefing makes a series of recommendations that will enable the Minister to reverse years of the previous government’s underfunding and policies which have negatively impacted on the well-being and mana of staff and learners.

Tina Smith, TEU Tumu Whakarae | National President says, ‘Knowledge, training, scientific exploration, and ingenuity continue to drive Aotearoa’s successful response to COVID-19. The quality of advice and action has only been possible because of the nation’s strong tertiary education system, and if we are to ‘build back better’ we must ensure quality vocational and higher education is adequately resourced.

“We commend Labour’s moves to re-orient the vocational education and training system so that its primary focus is on understanding and meeting the true needs of learners, communities, hapū, iwi, and industry. It is now time to build on that momentum and ensure the whole tertiary education sector is supported to realise these aspirations.”

Smith notes that the issues of institutional discrimination at the University of Waikato; the missed opportunities to live Te Tiriti o Waitangi at Unitec and MIT; job cuts harming learning opportunities at Victoria University of Wellington; and the mismatch between increased domestic enrolments and reduced staffing numbers are just four very immediate examples of the urgent need for change in the direction of tertiary education.