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TEC releases review of CPIT COOL Programme

MEDIA STATEMENT: 2 Pages 5 August 2004

TEC releases review of Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology COOL Programme

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) today released its review of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) COOL programme. It concludes that the objectives of the COOL programme are consistent with the Government’s strategy for tertiary education and also with CPIT’s approved charter and profile, which outline its mission and how it will fulfil it.

“However,” says Acting TEC Chair Kaye Turner, “in the TEC’s view, the primary question to be considered is whether the decisions and actions taken by CPIT meet the standards expected of public institutions. We acknowledge that the Tertiary Funding Guide (‘the Guide’) does not establish specific expectations for tertiary education organisations offering Community Education. In our view, however, the funding relationship is based on an implicit set of standards about the appropriate behaviour expected of public institutions. These standards include a tertiary education organisation’s responsibility to consistently review its claims for Crown funding to ensure they are not merely lawful but also appropriate and reasonable.

“While the Guide is intended to provide direction and guidance, it does not and should not be seen to provide for every possibility. When issues arise that may not be adequately covered by the Guide it is expected that public institution managers will exercise judgement and make choices based on standards of appropriate behaviour.

“The TEC does not believe that CPIT acted appropriately in using tertiary education funding to support the payment of rewards to those enrolled in its COOL programme. CPIT agrees that these payments were not appropriate and took action to alter the software for the on-line programme so that the reward function was deactivated. By the time that this change took effect, $83,284 had been spent or committed on a total of 6708 individual payments. The TEC has asked CPIT to repay this total sum. CPIT takes the view that it has no legal obligation to make such a repayment but has nevertheless agreed to do so.

The review also raised questions about the number of the 18502 students who, after enrolling, had effectively engaged in learning. Partly, this is because community education, by its nature, does not include provision for assessment of learning, and partly because e-learning options, like the COOL programme, introduce new issues of education management. CPIT has agreed to work with the TEC to develop a robust process to evaluate the learning experiences of students. This review would then be used as a basis for discussions between CPIT and the TEC regarding the 2003 programme. This process will also help to provide confidence that new modes of delivery in community education do produce appropriate learning outcomes.

The TEC will engage with the sector to both clarify the implicit standards of appropriate behaviour that are expected of public institutions when claiming Crown funds to support tertiary tuition, and work to ensure that areas of uncertainty in the Funding Guide are clarified and addressed,” says Ms Turner.



1. This review focussed on investigating CPIT’s compliance with funding regulations and broader elements of Government policy in relation to its development and delivery of four on-line computer courses known collectively as COOL (Computing Offered On-Line). These courses involve students working through a CD-based interactive tutorial to acquire a range of computing skills. Community education courses do not require completion or submission of course work, have no formal assessment, and do not offer a formal qualification on completion.
2. The TEC review’s terms of reference did not specifically cover the issue of conflicts of interest. This matter is being investigated by the Auditor-General.

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