Wed 20 Mar 2019

TEC goes a rove-ing

WITT student and staff urged thought be given to the future and to making maximum use of academic skills when the Tertiary Education Commission visited to discuss proposed changes this week.

Last Friday’s tragedy in Christchurch, which resulted in many major events being cancelled and plans being changed, also led to a diary change for the education minister Chris Hipkins, who was to have visited WITT but instead was in Parliament on Tuesday when statements of condolences were read.

The TEC, led by chief executive Tim Fowler, held staged sessions with both the New Plymouth District and WITT councils, WITT staff, students and stakeholders.

They were invited to hear and discuss the Government proposals to reduce the existing 16 polytechnics in New Zealand down to one.

The proposal is strongly backed by WITT and chief executive John Snook but has attracted opposition in Otago and Southland.

The two sessions with stakeholders and the district council were fruitful, John Snook said.

“There was a clear alignment of thinking between the district council at WITT and some positive suggestions were made to the TEC which underlined that Taranaki is somewhere special.”

Phil Wise, representing the RoVE (Review of Vocational Education) team addressed students to step through the reasons for a fundamental change being required now beyond what had in the past been “tweaks”.

The government was seeking a strong, unified system which was sustainable and would deliver on the needs of students, employers and communities.

He said the plan presented by the Government was not yet a fully calibrated one, putting 16 into one polytech was complex, but it was envisaged the outcome would be positive for New Zealand’s international standing.

Students saw a Powerpoint presentation which outlined the increasing pace of change, the difficulty in forecasting future demand and the emergence of new opportunities.

They asked questions about the impact on study costs, whether courses could be run remotely to enable students in isolated regions to study in the same class as those in major centres and whether or not the changes would result in smaller campuses and job losses.

The students were told their counterparts had also asked about the reality of a one-size-fits-all system and had raised concerns about the potential disruption to their studies.

Meanwhile, the deadline for submissions on the changes to tertiary education has been put back a week to April 5 as a consequence of the Christchurch shootings.