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Unitec Deficit is the Result of Appallingly Poor Management

Unitec Deficit is the Result of Appallingly Poor Management

The news that NZ’s biggest Polytechnic, Unitec, has a $31 million deficit and a government financial advisor has been appointed, was little surprise to the main union for support (allied) staff, TIASA (Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association.). “Our members carry out all the administrative and support roles across the institution, including financial administration and management”, TIASA Chief Executive Peter Joseph said,” and we have watched with alarm Unitec’s ongoing financial slide over several years now. Certainly the past government’s inadequate funding of our sector is partly to blame but this is not the whole story - there has been some appallingly poor management. But all our objections to many of the decisions that have led to this appalling situation, have been totally ignored by topmost Unitec management.

It is the institute, its staff, students, the wider community and taxpayers who are now paying the price for foolhardy and wrongly conceived management decisions over a long period of time by people who have now left the mess they have created for others to try and fix up. Where is the accountability for the many illconceived decisions taken by Unitec’s chief executives and topmost management over many years? Where is the accountability for the Council members whose lack of oversight has helped enable Unitec’s continued slide? And what about TEC? It’s all very well to appoint an advisor now but what has their role, as the funder, been, in this debacle? These people are a large part of the reason Unitec is in such difficulty.

The funding formula is certainly a part of the reason but it is not the whole picture. There has been an ongoing back story of very poor topmost management and governance for several years that has lead Unitec, which as one of NZ’s wealthiest and most stable tertiary education institutions, to this point. Yet those who have been a big part of all but destroying a once-fine institution on wild goose chases and pet projects such as trying to become a university, which wasted millions of dollars, while cutting back in vital areas and hundreds of staff job cuts, plus ill-conceived outsourcing all of which have cost many millions of dollars and student enrolments, destroyed morale and left Unitec financially bereft, seem to get off scot-free. This is not acceptable. They need to be held accountable to ensure that they do not repeat the same mistakes and create the same problems elswhere. TIASA has offered to work with government and Unitec to try and get Unitec out of these dire straits and put the institute back on its feet and the healthy situation it was once in”, Peter Joseph said. “But part of this surely has to be some accountability for those at the top who have got it into this mess”.

"Although Unitec's excellent support/professional (allied) and academic staff are in no way to blame for their institute's mismanagement, they are ones that are paying for it through restructuring, increasing and untenable workloads, job losses, inadequate pay increases, and uncertain futures", said Peter Joseph. Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association

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