Hau Taki Haere |Tertiary Update Vol 23, No 13

On 13 August 2019, the TEU met with 100 leaders from the tertiary education sector, business, iwi, and community who came together at the University of Waikato for the Voices of the Sector Forum 2019. TEU National Secretary Sharn Riggs refects on some key take-aways, including a collective statement which reflects the discussions held at the Forum for a dynamic and sustainable tertiary education sector.

This year’s Voices of the Sector Forum provided an opportunity for sector leaders to meet and debate what’s needed to ensure that the sector meets society's needs and provides for the sustainability of institutions.

Throughout the forum student representatives, staff, institutional leaders, industry and iwi representatives, had spoken passionately about ensuring that students, communities, and learning were put back at the heart of the tertiary education system.

At the end of the Forum, a student from Waikato University spoke of how she was moved by the passion and dedication to students shown by those debating the future of tertiary education. Quite simply she’d been doubting anyone cared about students.

The response reflected what has been shown in repeated research – that free market approaches to tertiary education have taken the humanity out of our institutions. Not by choice but because the funding model has turned our attention to counting everything and valuing little.

Together the nearly 100 participants confirmed in their collective statement the need to ensure student voice is heard. In the shared statement, which will go to the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, they noted that “The participants of this forum support a tertiary education sector that has a strong student voice and will provide an environment in which student associations flourish.”

What’s more, the leaders of the tertiary education sector who had gathered together for six hours of debate on the structures that are needed to ensure our tertiary education sector is dynamic and sustainable set out clearly that student support is not a ‘nice-to-have’, but essential.

The statement clearly directs those designing tertiary education funding to put aside money for “academic support, pastoral care, and mentoring for all students, whether work-based or provider-based.”

But it was the funding model that received the greatest attention – as in the two forums co-hosted by TEU, NZUSA, and institutions in 2018.

This time there was more urgency and a clear directive that it’s not the government on its own that must design a better model for supporting the diverse range of roles of the sector, but that the responsibility is shared by all of us in the sector.

The forum called on Government to ensure that staff, students, institutional leaders, iwi, community, and industry are part of the current and future discussions on a funding framework that moves beyond volume-based funding.

The statement also urges a greater focus on equitable outcomes in tertiary education. It states that structural change is needed along with a changing of mindset to enhance relationships with Māori – tauira, kaimahi and iwi and insists that there be an extension in law and practice of academic freedom and the critic and conscience of function to all parts of the tertiary education sector.

The Voice of the Sector Forum brought a diverse range of leaders together to discuss how the sector can work collectively to deliver on our shared objective of providing world-class education to our students. It is now the responsibility of all those who were in attendence to stand up and make a comittment to ensuring a dynamic and sustainable tertiary education sector exists in New Zealand, one that values the voice and contribution of all who have a stake in quality and transformative public tertiary education.

Also in this edition:

Time to talk to students and staff

Protecting academic freedom requires us all to speak up

Should academics be involved in public debates?

ITUC Youth focus on security in increasingly insecurelabour-market

Other news

Whitireia backtracks on plan to transfer students studying early childhood education - Stuff

Education minister turns down Lincoln and Canterbury universities partnership - Stuff

Students Roar against racism - Waatea

Opportunity for biggest change to student voice since VSM - Scoop