The New Zealand Union of Students’ Association have released their Reform of Vocational Education wishlist, spelling out what is required for the RoVE announcement to be seen as a success in the eyes of students.

National President James Ranstead highlighted RoVE as the opportunity of a lifetime for a generation of vocational learners, of which there are currently 180,000 in New Zealand.

“Changes need to be made to iron out the issues of the current model; a system that cannot cope with changing student numbers, competition and internationalisation that has caused mission drift away from regionally tailored education, and institute rigidity that is not suited to the mid-21st Century student or different worldviews (for example te ao Māori). We need to be giving students faith in the vocational education system, and by doing this we will better fill the critical skill shortages that have arisen in this country” said Ranstead.

Many of NZUSA’s members had been struggling over recent years as a result of the aforementioned issues.

“We have seen cuts after cuts to programmes and students services at Unitec, and too many of our students have been messed around. We are therefore extremely excited for the RoVE announcement, however stress the importance of a transition that aligns with the wishes of this press release” said Helen Vea, President of the Unitec Student Council.

“Student Voice has been reduced over the past decade as a result of voluntary student membership and a broken ITP funding model,” Perina Mucalo, President of the Wintec Students Association (SAWIT). “Wintec has continuously decreased the student voice budget, a symptom of institutional autonomy, competition and mission drift. We look forward to the RoVE announcement, and hope to see it iron out the aforementioned issues that have created unnecessary barriers for students.”

Reform of Vocational Education Student Wishlist 2019:

  1. Ensuring provision is localised in regions that need it, regardless of the population size (bums on seats) that currently drives provision levels.
  2. Well supported RoVE transitions that maintain and enhance educational quality and learner experience.
  3. A seamless transition from education to employment, regardless of student background and qualification.
  4. Independent students associations as opposed to student councils supported, with a guaranteed level of resourcing. This is in contrast to the current piecemeal system, leaving some institutes with no student voice whatsoever
  5. Adequate on campus student services reflective of the pre-Voluntary Student Membership era, with a special emphasis on mental health services
  6. Youth Guarantee Compulsory Student Services Fee (CSSF) payment exclusion covered by parent institute
  7. Organisational structure and education that is flexible (e.g. blended learning) to suit the 21st century student, meanwhile avoiding online learning being used a crux
  8. A National Center for Student Voice that enhances student voice capacity, quality and relationships.
  9. Enhanced support for diverse learners (particularly Māori and Pasifika), including the incorporation of different worldviews into what is currently a homogenised western structure and way of educating
  10. Free Tertiary Education, or at the very least the continued roll-out of the coalition Government’s Fees Free Policy.

Fulfilling this wishlist will ensure that all vocational education students have a positive experience, and that all campuses will be able to experience the success of those ITPs that have managed to cope throughout the current system, such as the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Andrew Lessels, President of the EIT Students’ Association Younited says EIT has some of the most impressive student outcomes in the country.

“Half of EIT’s domestic students are Māori and have some of the best achievement rates in New Zealand. EIT has a real connection with the communities of Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti which enable it to target the root causes of student challenges. A strong students’ association that can effectively lobby EIT and represent students’ views has been vital in ensuring good governance and decision making.”

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