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Unitec Cuts Shine Light On Broken System

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is once again dismayed but not surprised to note yet another Aotearoa New Zealand polytechnic attempting to cut its way to growth despite this repeatedly failed strategy contradicting the wishes of its parent organisation.

Unitec Chief Executive Gus Gilmore has informed staff that $2.5 million in savings needs to be found because of the requirements of the Tertiary Education Commission that to be financially viable every TEI must have operating surpluses of 9-13%.

This is despite recent advice from Te Pūkenga Chief Executive Stephen Town, in a paper presented to all ITP CEs on 10 August 2021, that “not all ITPs can achieve the targeted operating margin. Instead, institutions were encouraged look towards “progressive improvement for each ITP.”

TEU’s Unitec Branch President, Wei Loo, is disappointed to see his employer trying to cut costs unnecessarily, and warns it should not be staff who are made to bear the brunt: “that would not be building through kaitiakitanga, wakaritenga or mahi.”

“We know for certain that staff are already working at full capacity with workloads spiralling upwards in recent years. Heading into Te Pūkenga, Unitec needs to retain its highly skilled and dedicated staff. That’s true of all our ITPs. Their experience will be essential for the success of Te Pūkenga.”

TEU National Secretary, Sandra Grey, says it’s time for both Te Pūkenga leaders and the government to work out a better approach.

“Our institutions are still working with a broken funding model and we can’t wait for another 15 months for that to change. We need relief now. Money in so that operating surpluses can be smaller.”

Unitec have invited staff to give feedback on their announcement with any proposals for change due when Auckland emerges from lockdown.

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