‘There will need to be a new spirit of collaboration, with polytechnic boards working together with staff, akonga/learners, employers and communities, if the government’s vision of vocational education is to become a reality,’ according to Michael Gilchrist, Te Tumu Whakarae | Te Hautū Kahurangi.

79 people have been named today to sit on the boards of polytechnics during the transition to the new unified national network. That transition process will conclude in December 2022.

‘When the strategic direction of an organisation is set in collaboration with staff it is better grounded and more effective – and staff will pursue it passionately if they have  been involved from the outset.

But sadly the tertiary education sector has been plagued by a market model which distances the staff and learners from decision-making.  That’s got to end,’ says Gilchrist.

A survey in 2018 of over 3000 staff in tertiary education shows that tertiary education staff and their expertise has been side lined. When asked about their role in decision-making in 2018, 93.5 % felt they had no input into the decisions of councils and 80.2% had no input into major change in their institutions.  

The results of a survey run this month around NZIST paints an improving picture. Of 300 polytechnic staff members who participated in the survey, a smaller number - 76.5% - felt they had no input into council and 73.5% felt they had no input into major changes.

While there is a difference in the numbers, this latest pulse of the staff in the sector illustrates this improvement is welcomed but needs to be built on with strong strategic conversations and relationships says Gilchrist.

Gilchrist notes that the legislation governing NZIST requires the institute to “empower staff and students on matters academic, non-academic, and well-being.”  That begins with the subsidiary boards engaging proactively with staff.

Gilchrist says “We are writing to all subsidiary directors today asking for meetings with TEU members to ensure that we begin embedding empowerment of staff and students into institutions, from the outset. Let’s get this right from day one.”

We are also looking forward to working with NZIST and itssubsidiary boards to keep improving gender equity, says Gilchrist. “The startis pretty impressive with women being appointed to 72% of the subsidiarydirector positions.”