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Maharey Names UCOL As Community Partner

Maharey Names UCOL As Community Partner For Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic

Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey announced today that the Unversal College of Learning (UCOL) will be the community partner for Wanganui tertiary education.

The decision brings financial stability for the Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic and ends uncertainty in the region. It also offers increased opportunities for students and extended professional opportunities for staff as well as a substantial regional input.

“UCOL was an appropriate choice. Their willingness to work with Wanganui is an important step for the region.

“After close consideration of the many submissions and ideas put forward by the community and Ministry officials, the logic for the UCOL option was compelling. The two polytechics are geographically close to one another and will now combine to offer a richer range of education to both communities.

“The decision also brings with it an investment into the Wanganui community of up to $48 million, the expected cost of the new partnership model.

“A number of provisions have been included in the interim UCOL business plan to ensure local interests are protected. An outline of the plan was presented to key community leaders and polytechnic staff last week. Further substantive dialogue will occur between the community and UCOL now that the decision has been made that they will that they will become a community partner with Wanganui to deliver tertiary education.

“The commitments I made to protect the interests of the Wanganui community are preserved in this agreement. These are:

„« A Community Charter outlining the relationship between the community and UCOL will be created. The Minister views this as a way the Wanganui community can get involved with developing guidelines for public tertiary education for the region.

„« A Regional Advisory Committee will further ensure that the local community has input into the provision of public tertiary education in Wanganui. The Minister intends that the selection of Committee members will reflect the importance he places on local involvement.

„« Wanganui representation on the UCOL Council is planned. It is anticipated this will be two Ministerial appointees from the Wanganui region as well as a Students’ Association representative. As with the Advisory Council, the Minister intends representation to encourage community participation and involvment in UCOL’s future. Wanganui residents will also be eligible for representation through a number of appointed Council members.

„« Clauses in the Heads of Agreement between UCOL and the Crown. These will set out, at a high level, UCOL’s obligations to the Wanganui community.

“It is anticipated that the District Council will take the lead with UCOL to ensure the Community Charter is acceptable to the community.

“Wanganui has already demonstrated its ability to provide first class tertiary education in its chosen fields of expertise. With the stability and resources offered by UCOL this potential could be further developed and expanded to other fields,” Steve Maharey said.

Mr Maharey emphasised that the name of the Wanganui campus was of great importance. The name would be selected as the result of discussions between UCOL and the community. UCOL has already announced its intention to retain the name “Wanganui’ and work towards bringing together dispersed campuses into a consolidated site. The Computer Graphics & Design School will continue to retain its academic relationship with Waikato University. There is also the possibility of the Schools of Fine Arts and Fashion being considered for this kind of relationship in the future. Both UCOL and Waikato have indicated the commitment to building this relationship further.

“By combining the resources of Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic with UCOL we have secured first class tertiary education in Wanganui. This city is already recognised as a thriving arts centre and a welcoming community for out-of-town students. It can now look forward to a stable long-term future,” Steve Maharey said.

Further details can be found on the Ministry of Education’s Website:

http://www.minedu.govt.nz/index.cfm?id=4668

What will UCOL mean for students and staff?

The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) has announced that he has chosen the option of a community partnership for Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic (WRCP) with the Universal College of Learning (UCOL). This will mean that UCOL assumes responsibility for public tertiary education in Wanganui from late March next year. UCOL will be working hard to bring with it new opportunities and resources. For a start, however, students and most staff are unlikely to notice much change to their day-to-day routine.

Students should continue to enrol as normal with Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic. Courses that start in 2002 will be offered by UCOL.

In his announcement the Minister stressed that the UCOL decision was important to Wanganui in that it:

- ends uncertainty about the future of Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic;

- allows the continued delivery and management of courses by UCOL which will mean students will be able to access a wider range of and depth of courses provided in Wanganui and/or available across in Palmerston North;

- allows students to access student support services such as personal education plans tailored to individual learning needs;

- allows UCOL to bring a wide range of new opportunities to students and staff;

- ensures the future of the Computer Graphics and Design School continuing as a “Centre of Excellence” in Wanganui;

- confirms enrolled students will be able to complete their courses in Wanganui; and

- offers the opportunity for staff to be able to take up positions with UCOL, while also offering access to professional development opportunities and a wider career path.

Many of the questions you will have about how the UCOL decision will affect you have been answered on the Ministry’s website and you can read them there by visiting http://www.minedu.govt.nz/index.cfm?id=4668.

Here are the answers to some of those questions repeated plus others that we are sure you will find useful. Further information will be posted on WRCP’s website, as it becomes available. If you have other questions, please send them to the Acting CEO’s office, maureen.bourke@shadowfax.whanganui.ac.nz. These will be answered as soon as possible.

What happens now?

Now the Minister’s decision has been announced UCOL, the Wanganui community and the Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic will begin shaping the relationship that will drive the provision of public tertiary education in the region. It will be what the Chief Executive of UCOL, Paul McElroy, has described as “a period of consultation and dialogue”.

There are many things to discuss and the process will take some time. Amongst the key issues are the name of the new campus, the selection of representatives for the UCOL Council and the formation of the community charter.

Around the end of March the community partnership will be legally established*. A campus manager, who is still to be appointed, will represent UCOL on the Wanganui campus. Full management authority rests with the Acting Chief Executive until the date of incorporation, however, UCOL will be involved in some decisions surrounding future activities and in implementation of the changeover in management.

*NOTE: Under the Education Act 1989, the formal legal process to affect the community partnership will involve the disestablishment of Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic (WRCP) for the purpose of incorporation into UCOL, involves the transfer of assets and liabilities to UCOL (Section 217, subject to Crown negotiation). This is a legal requirement that will place management under the control of UCOL, through transferring the current resources of Wanganui Polytechnic to UCOL. For students and most staff this process will have little effect on their day-to-day lives.

What advantages will UCOL bring to Wanganui?

The first and most important thing a UCOL solution would bring to Wanganui is an assurance of long-term viability in the provision of public tertiary education for the region. UCOL is the preferred tertiary provider because of the quality of its educational services, sound financial and managerial structures and experience in developing and managing multiple campuses. UCOL is also in close geographic proximity to Wanganui. The plan also offers financial stability and helps to ensure educational viability. The interim business plan from UCOL includes the following commitments:

- UCOL will look to add to the present courses available to the Wanganui community and the Wanganui region.

- UCOL has a strong and comprehensive range of programmes which are a good match with those now provided at Wanganui.

- The present arrangements between Waikato University and the Computer Graphics and Design School are assured and will be strengthened under UCOL management.

- The provision of a community charter, regional advisory committee, representation on the UCOL Council, and iwi representation is designed to give Wanganui a strong voice in the provision of tertiary education to its community.

- Potential exists for consolidation of the present campus sites into a more focussed and vibrant addition to the city.

How can local employers be assured that their needs will be understood by an institution based in Palmerston North?

UCOL has a strong track record in working with employers and developing education solutions for their skill needs. UCOL is also experienced at managing distant sites and does so successfully in the Wairarapa and Otaki. A local Campus Manager, local staff and the provision of the community charter and regional advisory committee will all ensure local needs are recognised and met.

What is the name of the Wanganui campus going to be if the proposal goes ahead?

It is intended that the name will be formed in consultation with the community. UCOL has stated its intention of retaining Wanganui as a key word in any name.

Would there be courses cut if the UCOL proposal was accepted?

All students presently enrolled will be able to complete their courses in Wanganui. Ongoing provision of programmes and courses will, however, be subject to the same scrutiny that all tertiary providers regularly apply. This includes assessing demand and ensuring that quality assurance requirements are met.

Will students be able to finish the same courses they enrolled in?

All students currently enrolled will be able to finish their existing courses of study in Wanganui.

Will UCOL qualifications achieved by overseas students be accepted in their home countries?

The Ministry of Education will work with UCOL to ensure that the new arrangements retain international recognition. Students should also know that their qualifications are NZQA approved. This is the NZ National Standard that will apply and continue to be recognised nationally and internationally, whatever the outcome.

Does UCOL have experience in research?

Yes. UCOL has degree programmes in the fields of applied information science, nursing, medical imaging technology and human performance. UCOL supports and fosters high quality research, which informs professional and vocational practice. UCOL currently has two professorial appointments and two associate professors - all with internationally recognised research records who act as research leaders for the organisation. In particular, they are charged with building UCOL's research capacity around a series of research foci which are directly related to UCOL's degree delivery and are of value to the communities which UCOL serves.

What is happening to Rangahaua?

Iwi and government agreed that a decision on the future of Rangahaua (Maori studies faculty of Wanganui Polytechnic) would be treated as a separate exercise from the discussion and consultation on the future of the Wanganui Polytechnic. A decision on a partnership option for Rangahaua is expected within the next month.

Staff and students will receive an update bulletin shortly bringing them up to date on progress with determining the future for Rangahaua.

Note: While every effort has been made to provide accurate answers to these questions, the answers are general in nature and provided on the basis of the information available to the Minister at the time that this paper is posted on the web site.


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