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Tertiary reforms to destroy regional education in Canterbury

Nicky Wagner - List MP

21 June 2019

The Government’s tertiary education reforms will be wider than first though and will strip power and assets from regional polytechnics like the Ara Institute of Canterbury, List MP based in Christchurch Central Nicky Wagner says.

“National has obtained a Cabinet paper which outlines the Government’s proposed changes, the Government will take this paper to Cabinet on Monday.

“The reforms will mean regional polytechnics will be renamed as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). After two years polytechs and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) will be dissolved.

“This is disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships.

“The Government’s ‘we know best’ attitude will mean the organising of apprentices will be taken from industry, who know the needs of Canterbury best, and instead will be given to one polytech.

“Cash assets and community legacy assets will be ring fenced at the new head office, and all other assets will be taken away and consolidated. Current boards will sacked on day one including local members, and will be replaced by a subsidiary board, and regional leadership groups will be advisory only.

“Ara is a hugely respected and influential organisation in Canterbury. The Ara team, staff, management and governance works with, and understands, our community.

“They took a strong, hands-on and proactive role in managing training after the earthquakes which contributed much to the recovery of Christchurch and beyond. Ara has a can-do attitude that the people of Canterbury support and need. It must be retained.

“The Government has said it is committed to the regions. But it is destroying a polytech which is integral to our community. These reforms are punishing the Canterbury and are punishing well performing institutions like Ara.

“This is a case of Wellington telling Christchurch what to do. Education Minister Chris Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions like Ara alone.

“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return polytechnic decision making back to communities and the regions. We will return apprentices to the industry.

“We know how important Ara is to Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region. National will fight these reforms, we will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”


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