On the morning of the first day of the Branch President meeting, following action on parliament lawn in support of ITP staff and students, and against cuts affecting polytechnics across the country, a TEU oral submission to the Select Committee on the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill was presented by TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs.
The TEU voiced support of the intent by government to create through the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill a unified and cohesive network of vocationally focused public tertiary education provision that is both locally responsive and meets the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being needs of Aotearoa and beyond. In order to meet these aspirations, the TEU urged the select committee to make a number of changes to the Bill, which are stated in the TEU written submission on the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill.
Chaired by Chlöe Swarbrick (Green Party) and Simeon Brown (National Party) the TEU oral submission also emphasised the need for lifelong learning to be at the heart of tertiary education, ensuring staff wellbeing, the need for staff and student representation on the proposed NZIST Council, the need for academic freedom and institutional autonomy, the need for balancing expertise in vocational education and training, and ensuring equitable access to education in Aotearoa New Zealand.
According to Albert Fitisemanu, TEU Branch President MIT, it was encouraging to have two younger MPs chairing the session, although he hopes it will have perhaps given both MPs pause to reflect on the importance of the Bill moving forward,
‘It was great to have the two younger representatives there. They appeared interested and engaged in what we had to present, but it didn’t seem they properly grasped the impact of what we as a union are stating. This Bill is vital to the future of vocational education and training in Aotearoa, and I hope they take back to their colleagues some of the urgency and feel for the opportunity this Bill presents’.