Te Pūkenga and the TEC.

The proactive release last week of a report from Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua | The Tertiary Education Commission to the Minister of Education, and the subsequent media reporting, caused unnecessary stress to staff working in Te Pūkenga says the Tertiary Education Union.

The report, released on the TEC website, was advising the Minister of changes in student enrolments. This sparked media reports suggesting job cuts were on their way in Te Pūkenga despite the report noting savings which were already coming due to the creation of the network, including the almost $52 million in savings that are on the way due to the removal of governance bodies from Te Pūkenga subsidiaries and reductions in auditing costs. Te Pūkenga has since released an updated forecast showing a greatly reduced deficit only $4 million above original forecasts.

TEU says the issue is illustrative of the underlying problems of forecasting and the TEC’s funding model, which doesn’t meet Aotearoa’s educational and economic needs. The funding approach in tertiary education is too vulnerable to short-term changes in student numbers.

Te Pou Ahurei Takirua – Ahumahi | Assistant National Secretary – Industrial, Irena Brörens says, “we have continually advocated that staff cuts are not an appropriate response to temporary fluctuations in student numbers, which at this time are due to high employment rates. What would be more appropriate is a funding approach with base-line funding to ensure stability in the vocational education and training space, and then additional funding tied to enrolment numbers.”

Brörens says, “Aotearoa needs all our polytechnic staff right where they are, training our future workers. Cutting staff and the courses they teach denies students the opportunities they deserve and our country the skills and abilities it needs them to have.”

TEU has raised concerns about the release of the report and lack of clarification when media reports misrepresented it as signalling immediate job cuts, with the TEC CE Tim Fowler last week.

The TEU has also written to Minister of Education Chris Hipkins to seek an urgent meeting to discuss, among other things, the major change in tone around Te Pūkenga which cuts across his originally stated vision.

Three years ago, Chris Hipkins said “Instead of our institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery in more locations around the country."

Meanwhile we are reminding TEU members that submissions on the latest version of the operating model, Tā tātou huarahi | Our pathway: Te Pūkenga organisational direction and design, close this Friday.

We have created a submission guide to succinctly expand on the above principles and help members formulate a response. We also have an option to give TEU Liaison Officers feedback which can be passed on anonymously. No feedback is too short or insignificant to be included.

TEU submissions will focus on five key principles. Those principles are:

  • Honour Te Tiriti
  • Uphold the Charter
  • Staff working conditions are ākonga learning conditions
  • On-campus, online, and on-job, in the cities and in the regions
  • Govern centrally, operate locally