TertiaryUpdate - Vol 23 No 9

Tertiary Education Union Te Hautū Kahurangi (TEU) members around the country have been taking the opportunity for early input to the Government’s new Tertiary Education Strategy, 2020-2025.

The Strategy sets out the Government’s long-term strategic direction for tertiary education, and must be renewed every five years, with the current Strategy expiring this year.

The influential document is the main lever by which the Minister of Education sets the general direction of tertiary education in the country over the next five years. It sets objectives for institutions’ annual investment plans and criteria for their performance, from external reviews down to programme approvals.

Strategies under former Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce gave priority to labour market productivity and economic growth. One criterion for the performance of institutions was the incomes of graduates, for example, and STEM subjects have been emphasised at the expense of the humanities. This led to increased investment in STEM and cuts to humanities faculties during the last National government’s term.

Throughout the last decade, TEU has been working to change the way tertiary education has been viewed, and is seen in Te Kaupapa Whaioranga and later documents such as Changing Lives. And union members have tried to change the reporting mechanisms which have led to job losses and systemic bullying.

TEU President Michael Gilchrist says it’s crucial to get a change in direction embedded into the Tertiary Education Strategy. “Tertiary education is about transformative, lifelong experiences that develop the social, cultural, intellectual, and technical capabilities of individuals. All who engage in tertiary education will then be able to contribute to the common good as active citizens.”

We want to know that our communities have plumbers trained to fix the drains, but also citizens that can help audit the books of the local rugby club. We want nurses who understand the differing needs of patients because they know culture matters when it comes to health care, and parent-helpers at schools that are passionate learners and impart this to the children in a classroom.”

Gilchrist has held workshops at Massey, Otago, and Waikato Universities over the last two weeks, with Ministry of Education officials in attendance at two of the workshops.

Last year UCOL and Lincoln University branches also gave their input on what a Tertiary Education Strategy should look like. There were also workshops at the TEU conference, the council and national committee meetings, and online meetings about Māori and Pasifika student and staff needs.

TEU members are pleased to have been invited to share their expertise early in the development of the Tertiary Education Strategy.

“We’ve collated the views into an discussion paper that members and the government can use to facilitate further conversations and decision-making” says Gilchrist.

A draft document will be circulated for formal consultation in a few months. The TEU will be gathering feedback from members with the aim of making comprehensive submissions at that time.

“We need to ensure that the experience and expertise of staff is taken seriously and integrated into the TES”, says Gilchrist.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

1.      TEU backs industrial action at Wintec

2.      New Zealand’s first Just Transition Summit held in Taranaki

3.      Inclusive leadership welcomed in tertiary education

Other news

A third of NZ university students are sexually assaulted, a study suggests – Stuff

Growth towns in NZ: How Ōtaki is coming into its own - Noted

Waikato University restructure draws rebuke from Tertiary Education Union - Stuff