Government’s mega polytech in turmoil

Chris Hipkins needs to front up and explain what is going on at the Government’s mega polytech, Te Pūkenga, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

Staff were told today that Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Stephen Town is taking a leave of absence for personal reasons.

This comes two weeks after the Tertiary Education Union launched a petition calling on the Chief Executive to give his staff more time to develop a curriculum that is fit for purpose.

“The petition states staff are opposed to the pressure being put on them to implement an entirely new curriculum in just a few months.  

“It goes on to say ‘This is an unreasonable request on exhausted staff and risks poor outcomes. Staff need more time for consultation, and to ensure consistency and quality.  Staff are committed to great student experience and well-prepared graduates.  For new curricula to be fit for purpose, staff must be listened to.’   

“Chris Hipkins was warned by the sector that his centralised model wasn’t going to deliver better educational outcomes and be more financially viable but he pushed ahead with it anyway.  Now the vocational sector is in disarray,” says Simmonds.

“The Government needs to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on Chris Hipkins’ ideological dream which is producing worse outcomes for our young people, and instead focus on creating a more effective funding system that supports vocational education.

“Chris Hipkins also needs to explain how many regional jobs are expected to be cut after representatives in the industry were told as many as 600 jobs would be going from September.

“In the 16 months since Te Pūkenga was established, we now have a CE on leave, staff rallying against course content being rushed through, rumours of hundreds of job cuts and, to add insult to injury, Te Pūkenga is expected to make a loss of $110 million in its third year of transition. 

“That is more than the $48 million deficit posted by the 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics before the merger, that created Te Pūkenga at a cost of $200 million.

“In response to a recent Tertiary Education Commission report, Chris Hipkins asked to see a plan for some early wins, and expressed concern around financial sustainability asking what Te Pūkenga is doing to trim costs in response to lower enrolments.”