CE and Commissioner must listen to staff and make regional needs apriority in proposed merger of Whitireia and WelTecThe Tertiary Education Union (TEU) today called on Chief Executive ChrisGosling and Commissioner Neil Barnes to take seriously the views of staffand students affected by their proposal to merge Whitireia with WelTec,which includes closing the Kapiti campus, and to make their distinctivelocal and regional needs a priority.Both institutions have been through years of course and staff cuts, changesto roles, and constantly changing expectations. This had its origin indecisions made by the previous National-led government that squeezedfunding to the tertiary education sector and pushed for polytechnics to berun as if they were businesses via their competitive funding model,including the strategic partnership between WelTec and Whitireia.TEU national president Sandra Grey said: “Our polytechnics are based ongood teaching for students in diverse communities. Currently neitheracademic staff, nor students, nor communities are at the centre ofdecisions. TEU members urge the CE and the commissioner to bring this focusback. The concerns of staff include the rising numbers of managers inrecent times, the feeling of a lack of academic input into many decisions,the reduction of student support roles, and the lack of connection betweenthe polytechnics and local communities.”TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs said: “TEU members are disappointed withthis proposed decision. It highlights how National’s competitive tertiaryfunding model is failing smaller regional institutions such as Whitireia,which are built on community passion and drive.”“Education Minister Chris Hipkins wrote to the TEU recently, saying that heexpects the CE and the commissioner to engage with staff and students, andthat all decisions should be informed by the work and recommendations ofthe ITP Roadmap 2020 Project (1). The CE and the commissioner must move nowto involve staff and students in the decision-making process. Like theminister, the TEU expects them to work with staff and students to make thedistinctive local and regional needs of both institutions a priority, andto preserve the distinct cultures of the different campuses around teachingand student support (2),” said Sandra Grey.“We are facing this significant challenge with professionalism,understanding that there will be turbulent times ahead. We urge thecommissioner and CE to approach this process with integrity and opencommunication with staff, students, iwi and our community we serve so theyfeel they are informed, educated and can be included as a positive resourcegoing forward,” said Simon Dixon, TEU co-branch president at Whitireia.Notes to editors1. A letter from Education Minister Chris Hipkins to the TEU received on 24/9/18.2. WelTec and Whitireia have four campuses at Kapiti Coast, Petone, Poriruaand Wellington.For more informationSandra Grey, TEU National President, 021 844 176Sharn Riggs, TEU National Secretary, 027443 8768Simon Dixon, TEU Branch Co-President Whitireia, 021 836 202