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Promoting agreements between tertiary student and providers

Media Release
Ako Aotearoa – The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence
12 March 2012

Promoting good practice for contracts between domestic tertiary students and their providers

The enrolment process for domestic tertiary students in New Zealand involves a considerable contractual obligation that often goes well beyond course commitment.

A new report released recently advocates for greater reciprocity in the contractual arrangements made between tertiary organisations and domestic students, and offers good practice recommendations to support that move.

Codes of practice for domestic tertiary students in New Zealand: A stock-take is a summary of the key findings arising from a comprehensive review of agreements and contracts currently in place for domestic students in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. Tertiary providers use a wide variety of codes and contracts with multiple purposes in these contractual arrangements. This research aims to clarify some of the underlying issues in these contracts and identifies good practice that has the potential to benefit organisations and students across the tertiary sector.

Drawn from the full report by Network Research, the summary is published by Ako Aotearoa – New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence and endorsed by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations and Te Mana Ākonga (National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association). The Tertiary Education Commission Learner Advisory Committee also contributed to the project.

The report’s findings are grouped under four types of relationships that exist between organisations and students: pastoral care, teaching and learning, regulatory context, and third party agreements. The overview describes how providers deal with the commitments and obligations (for both organisation and student) that come with enrolment, while the report concludes with a set of recommendations for improving tertiary organisations’ approach to these contractual relationships with students. Importantly, it recommends that the tertiary sector develop student codes or contracts that are value-based, and ensure reciprocity between the student and the tertiary education organisation.

Peter Coolbear, Director Ako Aotearoa comments: “The report shows there are inherent difficulties for organisations in managing the tensions between risk management and aspirations to work in partnership with students.” This report provides some really useful pointers to how these tensions might be resolved.”

Pete Hodkinson, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations reinforces the view that mutual expectations of students and tertiary providers are often unclear and can result in unnecessary confusion and error for both parties. He comments, “This report provides a useful and timely opportunity to address some of these issues and to take positive action towards consistent and fair contractual processes right across the tertiary sector. We look forward to the recommendations of the report being taken up at both an organisation and sector level, and particularly commend the suggestion of an external, sector-wide review and appeal authority.”

Jacqualene Poutu, Tumuaki ō Te Mana Ākonga (National Māori Tertiary Students Association) is supportive of the role this report may have on the tertiary sector. “This research is focussed on an area that is in need of continued attention such as, the development and implementation of reciprocal relationships between learners and providers and the need to strengthen institutional policy to correctly commit to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The researchers should be commended for their efforts and contributions.” she says.

Summary report and more information at: www.akoaotearoa.ac.nz/codesofpractice

ENDS

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