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University Cuts Will Affect Teacher Supply

11th December 2007

For immediate release

University Cuts Will Affect Teacher Supply

NZEI Te Riu Roa, is challenging other universities not to follow Auckland’s lead, by cutting undergraduate enrolments, including the number of teacher trainees.

Auckland University has announced it is restricting undergraduate enrolment from 2009 in a number of areas, including teacher education. It is blaming the move on changes to government funding. At least two other universities are reportedly considering similar moves and will announce their decisions next year.

NZEI Te Riu Roa, which represents primary principals and primary and early childhood teachers, firmly believes that in times of a worsening teacher shortage, it is not the time to be reducing teacher trainee numbers.

NZEI National President Irene Cooper says “it sends a very mixed message. On the one hand the government is saying to prospective teachers, “Your Country Needs You”, while on the other, universities may move to close the door on them.”

The Ministry of Education says teacher staffing is the tightest it has been since the late 1990s. Figures from the Department of Labour put primary school teachers in the top ten list of high vacancy “high skill” jobs. This shortage is only predicted to get worse with the imminent lowering of student ratios in new entrant classes.

Meanwhile, only 60 percent of teacher graduates currently get jobs within the first year of completing their study.

Irene Cooper says “this is a massive skills wastage at a time when schools and the Ministry of Education are desperately recruiting teachers. The government should move to introduce a scheme to ensure permanent positions for new graduates so they have the continuity of teaching, professional development, and proper support to achieve registration.”

”All these teachers need priority access to jobs if we are going to reduce the offshore drift and skills drain and move to solve the teacher supply crisis. Restricting access to teacher training programmes is certainly not the answer,” says Ms Cooper.

NZEI will continue to raise the issue of teacher supply with the Ministry of Education and the government.

ends

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