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Massey consortium wins contract

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Massey consortium wins contract for new tertiary teaching centre

A Massey University-led consortium has won a $20 million Government contract aimed at boosting the quality of teacher training across the tertiary sector.

The consortium will establish New Zealand’s first Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence and run it for five years.

The centre will focus on supporting the development of teaching expertise across the tertiary sector. Based at Massey’s Wellington campus, it will have regional hubs in Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North.

The consortium includes AUT University, the University of Canterbury, Christchurch College of Education, the Universal College of Learning, and Manukau Institute of Technology.

Gordon Suddaby, Director of Massey’s Training and Development Unit, who is leading the project for Massey, says the aim is to provide support for teaching in the tertiary sector and create the best possible outcomes for students.

Mr Suddaby says the centre will have a strongly collaborative approach. Its establishment board includes representatives from wananga, polytechnics, private training establishments and other tertiary education providers.

He says about half the $4 million annual budget will be spent on projects, while some of the money will be spent on research, and monitoring and evaluation of effective teaching.
The centre will have a director, and that appointment will be one of the first tasks of the establishment group, while each of the hubs will have just over one full-time equivalent staff member.

Centre functions will include building the teaching capabilities of all tertiary institutions, providing advice to the tertiary education sector and government agencies.

“It could be simple things but it could be more intensive, something like how to address student issues or Industry Training Organisations might want to do surveys to establish what are the needs or particular industries,” Mr Suddaby says. “Its a really exciting initiative. I see it as an opportunity to provide the support and some direction and coherence to the sector that hasn’t aways been there.”

Australia has a similar organisation called the Carrick Institute in Sydney while Melbourne also has a government-funded training provider. Britain’s Higher Education Academy has a much bigger brief that crosses into what the Tertiary Education Commission does here. “We will build our model ourselves,” says Mr Suddaby.

That process started this week, with the centre establishment group holding its first meeting in Wellington. Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear congratulated the group on the successful bid.

Professor Kinnear says it is important that the centre be relevant, linked to practitioners and outcome-driven but, at the same time, reseach-informed.
“This is a far-sighted initiative by the Government that overseas experience suggests will will quickly reap rewards for New Zealand across all spheres of tertiary education.”

She had called on her own contacts among staff involved in the Carrick Institute and the Higher Education Academy to help to support the bid and says the centre will utilise those links in future, including for collaborative research.

Mr Suddaby is delighted that Massey gave such strong support to the project, with Professor Kinnear taking an active role, including in the selection interviews conducted by the Tertiary Education Commission.

He says it was good to work collegially with such a wide range of partners and acknowledged particularly the contribution of Alison Holmes from Canterbury and Associate Professor Neil Haigh from AUT.

“All the collaborative partners and their vice-chancellors have been very supportive. In our bid we tried to make it practitioner-driven and pracititioner-based. The people involved in it were all involved in staff development activities.

“The establishment group is now looking forward to developing a wide range of collaborative engagements with the whole sector to realise the vision of best learning outcomes for all students.”

Professor Tom Prebble from Massey, a former Director of Extramural Studies and Professor of Higher Education, has been given the role of interim director and project manager.


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