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The views of the Te Tau Ihu (top-of-the-south) community on the impact to NMIT of the Government’s proposals for the future of vocational education are the most important views of all, says NMIT (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology) Council Chair, Daryl Wehner.
Education Minister Hon Chris Hipkins announced this month the biggest tertiary education reform in decades. The Minister proposes three main changes as part of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE). The most significant for NMIT’s future is the merger of the 16 existing Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), including NMIT, and the establishment of a central New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology to govern them. It is also proposed that the current Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are replaced with Industry Skills Bodies, with industry skills training rolled into the local ITPs, such as NMIT. The third proposal is for a unified vocational education funding system. The RoVE consultation period ends on 27th March, 2019.
Daryl Wehner invites the wider Te Tau Ihu community to provide input into NMIT’s submission.
“There are five weeks to make a submission on the Minister’s proposals,” Wehner says. “NMIT has already started our internal consultation with staff and students, and it is also very important to us to hear the views of our partners from the business and local government sectors, iwi, and the public. After all, how our future looks should be based on what those we serve need from us.”
Wehner says last week was the NMIT Council’s first opportunity to consider the RoVE proposals. At the meeting the Council identified positive opportunities, but also had many concerns about key decisions being taken off the regions.
“We have no real detail about the mechanics of how the one central institute would work, so we are looking at both the opportunities it brings, and the unintended consequences,” he says. “We can see possible cost savings and consistency benefits and there are opportunities to build on our obvious national strengths in the region, such as viticulture, aquaculture, maritime and aviation engineering. However, we are very concerned about the lack of autonomy for each region.
“We believe the proposal to take decisions relating to budgets, capital and operational strategies, and capital asset management, from the regions to the central institute is a reaction to the few who may have underperformed in these areas,” he says. “NMIT is not one of those underperformers. Our financials, student enrolments and graduate numbers are extremely healthy. And, yet we believe our ability to continue to exceed expectations and strive for excellence would be taken away from us if we don’t retain local decision making in some form.
“Currently, when regional employers’ needs change, community demographics change, or local opportunities arise that would benefit our students and Te Tau Ihu, we can move quickly and collaboratively. We can see risks if this power is taken away from the regions, least of all having centralised processes slowing things down so much opportunities are lost.”
Wehner invites people to sign up to the NMIT RoVE newsletter for information about the NMIT consultation process over the coming five weeks.
“We want to have a conversation with people in the region over the next two weeks, so we better understand their views of the three proposals, to inform our submission to the RoVE.”
You can also read background information and provide feedback directly to the Tertiary Education Commission(external link).