Te Pūkenga fate to be decided after vow to disestablish

Staff at the embattled mega-polytechnic Te Pūkenga will find out the fate of the institution this week.

Newly sworn-in Tertiary Education Minister Penny Simmonds has said the model was a failure.

She has pledged to disestablish the nationwide institution which swallowed up Otago Polytechnic and other independent campuses.

A spokesman for Te Pūkenga confirmed management met Ms Simmonds late last week.

"The minister will provide us with her letter of expectations shortly.

"Once we receive this, we will be in a position to inform our staff of the direction the government wishes to take in relation to vocational education and training."

A spokesman for Ms Simmonds said she would issue a press release before the end of the week.

It is understood Te Pūkenga council could receive the letter of expectations at today’s council meeting.

Te Pūkenga was created through the merger of the country’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics, and nine industry training organisations in 2020, and since then it has gone through several restructures.

In September, it announced a restructure which will lead to 200 fewer fulltime equivalent roles across the national network, which employs about 10,000.

Te Pūkenga reported an unaudited deficit of $86 million for last year, which was $27m worse than budget.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Daniel Benson-Guiu said staff had already gone through so much upheaval since the reforms of the sector began in 2018.

Staff morale had been horrid.

"Our members have seen the effects of attrition, with many jobs lost that has resulted in no improvement in student numbers or in teaching in the vocational education sector.

"Members are weighing up what options they have under the new system."

The union was trying to reassure its members that at this stage, there were no indications what the new government’s reforms would look like, he said.