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Vocational Education - 'students must be the centre'


13 February 2019

Vocational Education set to change - 'students must be the centre'

The bums on seats, market driven approach to vocational education offering is likely to change to a community needs based approach, according to Education Minister Chris Hipkins in his Reform of Vocational Education announcementtoday. A bold, single ‘New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology’ has been suggested as the answer to New Zealand’s 16 ITP’s currently in competition, a model that has led to future uncertainty with hundreds of course closures and thousands of students missing out on learning opportunities.

‘What we need in New Zealand is a vocational education system that caters for students of a diverse background, and for communities with diverse needs. The idea of having Regional Leadership Groups focusing on this as opposed to independent institute councils focusing on competing against the neighbouring institute will be much more effective, and should give greater opportunity to fulfil our treaty responsibilities’ says James Ranstead, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

The union is connecting up with its member associations in the coming weeks to ensure a consistent and coherent message on the sector reforms, although many of its members were quick to respond to the announcement today. 'The reforms are heading in the right direction, however there was very little detail provided on student voice. With the introduction of Voluntary Student Membership in 2011, student voice and student leadership has been stripped from ITP’s more than elsewhere. We look forward to helping shape the student voice of a sector that serves over 150,000 students annually, and encourage the Government to seriously listen to our recommendations on this' said Poihaere Whare, President of the Students' Association of Waikato Institute of Technology.

President of the Association of Students’ at the Universal College of Learning Karla Davis is excited for this necessary change, however stressed the importance of student support throughout the process of change and within the final model, saying 'students are our leaders of tomorrow'.

NZUSA will be focusing heavily on student voice in their submission, and although greater influence from industry has its positive elements, it runs the risk of shutting out student voice and leadership. 'We need a collaborative approach – from the campus level, all the way through to the National Governance framework of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. This is our opportunity'.


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