On Wednesday 4 July 2018 students of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology were given the opportunity to interact with and discuss ideas about the future direction of polytechnic sector in Aotearoa. Most people in New Zealand are aware that the tertiary education sector (namely polytechnics) are struggling financially due to many different issues. The biggest issue is the decline in the number of students enrolling to learn new skills and trades. Why is this? There appears to be more jobs available for people so study isn’t as much of a priority.

The New Zealand Government through the Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins, are reviewing the entire education sector from early childhood (before school) to university level study. Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology is part of the review and have contributed ideas to support potential changes being made. The Minister has indicated that the changes will be announced in October 2018.

The visit from the TEC gave students of Toi Ohomai the chance to share their experiences and have their opinions heard.The Government recognizes that students want and need be be part of the conversation and decision making process. The TEC were deeply interested to hear what was happening at the Institute with emphasis upon student support systems, IT, enrollment processes and the perceived place of the student in the decision making processes of the organisation.

Students of Toi Ohomai will be happy to know that meeting attendees discussed a broad range of areas including the delivery of teaching and support for students at regional campuses. Emire Khan-Malak, President of Student Pulse, spoke  strongly about the need for independent student voice and the need for a student led body that works collaboratively with the Institute but that can also stand apart and provide critical yet constructive opinions when required. Virgil Iraia, immediate past President of Student Pulse, also attended as Toi Ohomai alumni, student representative and staff member of Toi Ohomai, and gave his view from various viewpoints.

International student representatives attended the meeting and spoke succinctly and clearly about the support they would like to see in future with emphasis being on support for employment. Student Pulse and Toi Ohomai recognize the importance of having an ethnically diverse student body. In a future polytechnic sector it is hoped that the levels of support international students receive is of an even greater quality than what is currently provided.

Student Pulse are committed to supporting students across the entire Bay of Plenty and South Waikato district to have access to quality teaching and support. The single best way we can provide this support is through being an intermediary between students and senior management through membership on the various committees and boards that influence the decision making. In the meeting Student Pulse acknowledged the quality of relationship that has been established with the Chief Executive and Executive Team of Toi Ohomai and it is our intention to continue to strengthen those relationships to have students voices heard.

The day after the meeting we were encouraged to receive a message from Sandra Grey, President of the Tertiary Education Union, who shared on twiitter –