Submission of the Tertiary Education Union Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa – Lincoln University branch
To Dr. Andrew West, Vice Chancellor, Lincoln University
“Proposal for Qualification Reform”
26th February 2013
For further information please contact: Stuart Larsen TEU branch president Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 027 434 9533 Cindy Doull TEU organiser Email: email@example.com Mobile: 021 655 322
Lincoln University Proposal for Qualifications Reform A. INTRODUCTION On Tuesday 29th January 2013, the TEU organiser at Lincoln University and the TEU branch president received a copy of a proposal for a major qualifications reform from Julie Williamson, Human Resources Manager. TEU members at Lincoln University branch have a number of concerns about the proposal itself which will be expanded upon later in this submission. Members (and the national union) are also extremely concerned about the haste in which this proposal has been drafted, the lack of detail for much of the changes proposed, and the lack of transparency with regard to consultation with stakeholders (including the provision of a very different “headline” document to some stakeholders which bears little relation to the proposal). Alongside these concerns, TEU members, staff and students have been faced with an unreasonable deadline for submissions and a confusing parallel process whereby the detail missing in the proposal is being worked on during the consultation phase, with no indication how this information is to be fed in. To add to the stress on staff attempting to provide a considered response to the proposal, requests for further information from the national union have been provided in an ad hoc manner. Enormous volumes of material were eventually forwarded which was then somehow meant to be analysed, critiqued and integrated into this submission in a very short timeframe. Our concerns about the process and timing of this review and the difficulties that have arisen in regard to the provision of information are further elaborated on below.
B. RECOMMENDATION FROM TEU MEMBERS AT LINCOLN UNIVERSITY For the following reasons, TEU members at Lincoln University recommend and urge the university to cease work on the Proposal for Qualification Reform: a. b. c. d.
The lack of a strategic plan to guide and inform any future changes at the university. Concerns about the extent of engagement with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. The extremely short timeframe for consultation with staff and stakeholders. The lack of detail (including crucial financial analysis) in the proposal and the difficulty in obtaining full information to inform the submission process. e. Lack of agreement on the overall model for qualification reform.
C. SPECIFIC ISSUES REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PROCESS TIMING The Tertiary Education Union has made its concerns known to senior university managers with regard to the timing of both the initiation of this review, and the amount of time provided for submissions to be prepared. It seems that the university has been preparing this proposal for a considerable period of time. The version provided to the TEU for comment was numbered Version 5, suggesting that the preparation of this proposal had passed through a number of people for feedback by late January. Further, despite reassurances that the consultation process was simply addressing a â€œconceptâ€?, the consultation document sets out in detail a proposal that is well enough developed for the university to believe it will be ready for the 1st May Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) meeting. Initiating consultation over such a radical proposal at one of the busiest times of the academic year means that that staff have not had adequate time to make considered submissions to the proposal. The fact that no staff knew about the proposal prior to the end of January demonstrates a lack of transparency on the part of the Executive Leadership Team and means that the ELTâ€™s thinking about the proposal, or indeed any alternatives, is so compromised that it renders the consultation meaningless. Added to this are concerns about the extent to which the university can claim that it has obtained genuine and meaningful input from students (most of whom have not been at Lincoln University for the bulk of the consultation period). We are also concerned that the information provided to key stakeholders is extremely limited, and therefore calls into question the extent that these stakeholders can provide informed feedback to the proposal. In our view, meaningful input from staff, students and the community is so compromised by the inadequacy of the consultation process that the university cannot possibly have a mandate to continue with this proposal in the timeframe it has indicated. We are aware that overseas universities who have successfully implemented radical qualification reforms have carried out the consultation and implementation process over much longer timeframes. Generally these universities have taken a minimum of two years and anything up to six years to research and implement the changes. For example, the University of Aberdeen took six years from developing the framework to implementation. The timeline outlined in the proposal also notes that the Senior Management Group (SMG) will review feedback from submitters and make decisions about the next steps for the proposal by the end of February (i.e. 28th February). How can SMG, with any due care, consider feedback from submitters in two days, especially given the vice chancellor is off campus until 1st March? The timeline also notes that draft proposals and regulations are to be prepared for a possible Academic Board meeting at the end of February. Again, how will this be achieved with the required care in this timeframe? With regard to submitting new programmes for approval at the 1st May CUAP meeting, the TEU does not believe that there will be sufficient time for adequate detail to be obtained and for further consultation around the detail of the proposed programmes to occur. We believe 3
that it is unrealistic, unprofessional and academically unsound to progress with this proposal to CUAP with such indecent haste. It is also incumbent upon the university to ensure that the proposed new programmes do not compromise its future reputation in the education and research community and amongst its stakeholders. If this proposal and the implementation timeframes the university has insisted upon (the 2014 academic year) remain, we believe that the disruption to teaching and learning and the impact of the change process will have a serious and negative effect on the academic reputation of Lincoln University.
PROVISION OF INFORMATION As stated in a letter from Nanette Cormack, Deputy National Secretary of the TEU to ViceChancellor Andrew West, dated 19th February 2013, the TEU was forced to make numerous requests for information cited by the university as informing the Proposal for Qualification Reform. The TEU wrote on 4th February, 8th February, 12th February and 19th February seeking compliance with our requests for information. At the time of preparing this submission we still do not have all of the information that the university has relied on to inform this proposal. The material that has been provided was received just over a week before submissions closed and was so voluminous that it was impossible to thoroughly review and analyse in the timeframe set by the university. A further compounding problem has been the simultaneous detailed work taking place in various faculty meetings, work-streams and steering groups. There has been no indication from the university regarding how this additional information will be disseminated to stakeholders and staff so that this can be included in submissions on the proposal.
OBLIGATIONS IN REGARD TO TE TIRITI O WAITANGI Lincoln University’s Investment Plan 2011-2013 notes on page 11 that it has begun the process to “outline the parameters for a unique form of partnership between an iwi and a university”: Developments to better align Lincoln University’s academic and research capability with the social, cultural, environmental and commercial needs and aspirations of the tribe... And Working together to address the more fundamental and intergenerational issues around a treaty partnership between an iwi and a university, and to consider ways to give effect to treaty partnership “’in practice’. These are commendable developments. However the content of the Proposal for Qualification Reform gives little indication of that partnership in practice. We understand that the AVC Communities has begun work on the Māori strategy for Lincoln University, which will include Ngāi Tahu (as mana whenua) and other iwi, with a first draft to be presented in March and June being the date to begin implementation. Our
understanding is that the AVC Communities will also be completing the indigenous peoples’ strategy, with a first draft ready in October, and aiming for 2014 implementation. However at this stage in the consultation on the Proposal for Qualification Reform, we are left wondering the extent to which Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has been explicitly involved in shaping this document, and in what ways the proposal aligns to their education, economic social and cultural development goals? The consultation proposal makes no mention of engagement with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (either with the iwi body or through the council representative) or how the changes proposed align with Ngāi Tahu education priorities and development aspirations. Given that Ngāi Tahu has mana whenua status and Lincoln University is a participant in Te Tapuae o Rehua, we would expect the draft proposal to be very explicit about when and how such engagement has or will take place. We understand meetings have taken place with Ngāi Tahu Group Holdings and with the Chief Executive of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (verbal account from meeting with Dr. West 22nd February 2013) about the proposed new direction for Lincoln University. What is not clear to us is the level of information provided at these meetings and what discussions have taken place to ensure that Ngāi Tahu goals and aspirations have been integrated into this proposal.
ENGAGEMENT WITH MĀORI STAFF AT LINCOLN UNIVERSITY Whilst some engagement with some Māori staff has taken place, given the magnitude of the changes proposed, we would expect that regular hui with all Māori staff (academic and general) be scheduled throughout this process, to give updates and to receive feedback.
SUPPORTING ALL STAFF THROUGH THIS PROCESS The proposals contained in the draft document outline extensive changes for Lincoln University. Reviews of this magnitude are inevitably stressful and can be divisive. TEU members request that careful thought is given to supporting staff, and in particular how staff unity can be maintained.
D. FEEDBACK ON THE PROPOSAL FOR QUALIFICATIONS REFORM DOCUMENT (29TH JANUARY 2013) The Proposal for Qualification Reform sets a new direction for Lincoln University, a direction that appears to be based on unproven assumptions about student satisfaction with the university’s current programme and qualification structure, poorly-evidenced statements about future industry requirements and an incorrect interpretation of recommendations from the Minister for Tertiary Education in response to the University’s Business Case Proposal. Importantly, with regard to the Minister’s response to the business case, the TEU has seen no evidence of a request from government for Lincoln University to deal with the various challenges it faces with the level of urgency outlined in the Proposal for Qualifications Reform. This can only lead us to wonder what other agendas might be at play. Additionally while we may understand the need to achieve financial sustainability we are not aware of the issues around organisational sustainability. Surely the recent review and appointment of the Executive Leadership Team would provide organisational sustainability? Question: Please specify what the organisational sustainability issues are?
THE FOUR DRIVERS FOR CHANGE The proposal notes four main ‘drivers’ for the changes outlined – strategic, academic, financial and political: The strategic driver: It is difficult for us to accept strategic arguments for change, given that the university does not have a current strategic plan. We note from the Vice Chancellors update of 30/01/2013 the following: From the VC: 30/1/2013 http://hub.lincoln.ac.nz/news/Pages/2013-Business-Plan.aspx You may have noticed the missing element in all of this; Lincoln University’s Strategic Plan. Developing the 2013 Business Plan didn’t need a lot of articulated strategy – we are in a crisis and we have to get out of it within the context of our landbased Mission. I shall personally craft up the first draft of the Strategic Plan by April to take to Council’s Planning and Marketing Committee. We note from the Business Plan 2013 that the intention is to have the Strategic Plan completed by August. Perhaps this is information that should be shared with Professor Matear who believes that there is a clear strategic direction: “We have a new vice-chancellor. We have a clear strategic direction. We have to make sure our qualifications portfolio falls in behind that direction." Question: Is it intended that staff will be involved in developing the strategic direction of the university? How can the Proposal for Qualification Reform fit within the strategic direction when Lincoln University does not have a strategic plan?
The academic driver: The Proposal for Qualification Reform notes in regard to the current qualifications portfolio: Indicates a need to work on the extent to which existing graduate attributes reflect the current and future priorities for the university. Academically, the qualifications portfolio should be straightforward and simple for students (and their parents and other advisors) to understand; and a qualification from Lincoln should prepare graduates well for a range of career options, initially in their chosen area and then over a lifetime of career and personal development. Much has been said or made of the difficulty and complex nature in understanding the current qualification portfolio, yet no evidence, other than very anecdotal feedback, has been provided that supports this argument. In fact, when the data from the Open-Ended Questions appendix of the Lincoln University 2011 Undergraduate and Post Graduate Student Satisfaction Surveys is analysed, numerous responses referred to the â€˜best aspectsâ€™ of the experience at the university being small classes, staff accessibility, a wide variety of programme choices, a high level of flexibility in the structure of programmes, the practical components of courses as they are currently structured, and strong linkages to industry. The move to a smaller number of degrees with core courses across programmes seems to be at odds with what students are saying they value. We believe that implementing the proposal is likely to have a detrimental effect on student enrolments, with the risk that students see programmes as being less directly relevant to their career aspirations. Question: Where do the complications in the current qualification structure lie? How will graduates reflect future priorities when Lincoln University itself is not clear on them? The financial driver: No evidence has been provided that the current qualifications portfolio is an impediment to achieving greater returns from marketing and recruitment efforts. Question: What analysis has been undertaken on the success of various marketing campaigns? What are the impediments that have been identified? Despite requesting the risk analysis, cost benefit analysis and due diligence information for this proposal, no financial information has been provided. We remain extremely concerned that the proposal is accelerating at a fast pace, and it appears that this crucial piece of financial work may not have been done. Question: What are the projected costs of reducing from 14 to three undergraduate degrees in regard to: a. b. c. d. e. f. g.
Potential reduction in staffing levels â€“ redundancy - redeployment costing; Completion of existing degrees; Re-marketing and re-branding; Establishing a significantly larger practical work office; Development of indigenous studies; Expansion of space to provide for large group classes; Resources to support the development of new courses and course materials?
Additionally, the proposal talks about economic savings. These are not quantified, either in terms of what the university needs to reduce operating expenditure by or the anticipated reduction from this proposal. If economic savings are possible, it is likely to take a number of years before there are any financial gains to be made from this proposal. Question: On what basis does the university assume that the new programme will be cost effective to deliver? We request with some urgency an update on the 2012 end of year financial returns. Question: What is meant by the detailed work to establish a course- cost model will be undertaken by Deloitte’s and will develop a framework for future course-cost decisions? When is this work to take place? The political driver: We have received a copy of a letter from the Vice Chancellor to Hon. Steven Joyce, dated 26th September 2012 re: Lincoln University Programme Business Case. In that letter the VC notes that: Lincoln University’s wishes to strengthen its position as New Zealand’s only specialist, land based University. This will be achieved by securing an injection of capital for the physical rebuild requirements and seeking endorsement to deliver quality education to a greater volume of degree and vocational level students in order to earn our way out of the current impacts of the 2010.2011 seismic activities…. And that Lincoln University accepts that to achieve this optimal position, the university also needs to deepen its relationships with the land-based industries, the relevant Primary Industry Crown Research Institutes and Iwi Māori. Additionally, the university proposes to help establish an Agri-Technology Innovation Park in the Lincoln precinct. The letter goes onto state that ..the university is confident that the requested investment (detailed in the Programme Business Case) will provide the country with an increased volume of land based graduates…. The Hon Steven Joyce wrote to Tom Lambie - Chancellor on 28th November 2012, advising the result of Cabinet’s discussion of the Programme Business Case. In that letter the Minister states: That your immediate priority is to grow your student numbers and I can advise that TEC has indicated support for growth in degree-level SAC funding at the Lincoln campus as set out in your Programme Business Case, subject to student demand and educational performance. Hon Steven Joyce also stated: …that a key enabler for growing student numbers, and potentially reducing your costs, will be to progress the work underway to develop a world class educationresearch –technology transfer hub at Lincoln…..
In the letter of 28th November 2012, the Minister indicates that there is still work needed to elaborate the hub concept and how it will function, further noting that: …the original timeframe of mid-January 2013 for completion of your Project Business Case appears unrealistic. The letter concludes that: …in the short term I think your efforts would be better directed towards demonstrating the long term viability of the university. My understanding is that the work underway to develop a Lincoln hub has the potential to lead to lower costs and stronger educational outcomes. Given that we have requested a copy of the letter from the Hon Steven Joyce to the Vice Chancellor regarding the university’s requirements to return to financial and organisational sustainability, we have assumed that the letters provided fulfil that request. There is nothing in the letter from the Minister that requires the university to demonstrate that it is prepared to address pre-earthquake weaknesses in student numbers and costs in order to present a strong case for investment. The letter states that the priority is to grow student numbers, to progress the Programme Business Case, and for the university to take the necessary time to do so. Question: How will the Proposal for Qualification Reform meet the priorities noted by the Minister? What are the added cost implications for Lincoln University in the development of the Lincoln Hub? It is obvious from Hon Steven Joyce’s letter that time should be taken to prepare a realistic Programme Business Case. It is equally important that time should be made to prepare a realistic considered response to the Proposal for Qualification Reform.
FEEDBACK AND INPUT FROM STAFF We note that the process requires two sets of contribution from staff. We have encouraged members to provide feedback on any or all aspects of the proposal. We are however very concerned at the level of detail required in the second request for input in examining the options in more depth, especially 4 (b). This detailed contribution would include examining graduate profiles, programme regulations and curricula and making recommendations on these aspects. That workstreams are proposed to examine these and other programme design implications of the proposal. The work-streams would be co-ordinated by a steering group. It is evident from the work being undertaken by the work-streams and steering groups that in depth feedback is at a far more advanced state than has been suggested by the proposal and that these work-streams are developing the new degrees. That this work is happening in tandem with consultation on the Proposal for Qualification Reform makes a farce of the process. It is difficult for us to believe that the university has any genuine desire to consult in a meaningful manner with its employees.
THE PROPOSED TIMELINE AND CUAP The timeline provides a further round of consultation for July â€“ August, on the assumption that CUAP will have made a decision based on final Council and Academic Board approvals. This consultation process will work through the detailed implementation plan. This will be the practical aspects of making the changes work and will not provide an opportunity to change the degrees offered. As we noted earlier in this submission, the TEU has serious concerns about a proposal being released for consultation and at the same time, much of the detail of the proposal being developed, with no mechanism for submitters to evaluate this additional information. As we also noted, the consultation is farcical when every appearance is given that the model will proceed regardless of the concerns expressed by staff. It is a strange process indeed, when staff are being asked to work on details of the proposal before there is agreement that it is the right model for Lincoln University. In relation to the very compressed timeline to meet CUAP deadlines, the TEU does not believe that there has been sufficient time for the level of analysis required to develop a new degree structure, to deliver a full and coherent proposal to CUAP (who expect detailed analysis to justify proposals for new programmes or qualifications), and for further consultation around the detail of the proposed programmes to occur. We are concerned that it will be difficult for the university to meet expectations in regard to its obligations for Academic Board compliance and CUAP regulations/compliance, and that this exposes the university to risk of failure, and to damage of its reputation, and may call into question the academic quality of the programmes being offered. The Lincoln University Academic Board is responsible for maintaining an oversight of academic programmes and advises the Council on academic matters. Question: How will Academic Board and Council be able to give the necessary level of scrutiny to all proposed course and programme changes and introductions in a period of 17 working days (i.e. the period 27th March to 23rd April â€“ including days lost for the Easter holiday)? The CUAP Functions and Procedures Manual notes that: Most universities have established formats for presentation of proposals for changes to academic offerings, from the introduction of new qualifications to the amendment of the wording of individual paper prescriptions. Where new qualifications or programmes are involved, typically the originators are required to describe each component of the proposed new offering in considerable detail, to specify contact hours and modes of assessment, to provide drafts of regulations and any other Calendar entries, to identify who will teach any new material, and to estimate needs for additional resources. That documentation is then sent to representatives of the teaching staff of the division for wider debate on the merits of the proposal. Page 3
Question: Within the timeframes that Lincoln University has outlined in the proposal document, when will detailed information about programme changes be made available to staff, so that this can be properly considered? The CUAP manual also notes: Acceptability Evidence of consultation in the preparation of the proposal and acceptability to relevant academic, industrial, professional and other communities. If there is a professional registration or licensing body relevant to this area of study, it must be named and written evidence from that body of the university’s consultation with it provided. Page 20 Given the extent of the changes proposed, we urge Council and senior management to take particular regard of this guidance from CUAP. TEU members are not opposed to change at Lincoln University. However the extent of change indicated by this proposal and the speed at which the university intends to progress it, raise serious concerns for members. There is insufficient time at this crucial stage of the process to adequately evaluate the proposals, and a lack of detail in key areas (For example, what will constitute the ‘common, core papers’ and how will these be decided? What constitutes practicum and how will this be resourced?).
MARKET AND CONCEPT TESTING Market testing: Page 10 of the draft proposal notes that market testing will take place in February. Question: How will market testing be undertaken and who will be responsible for it? How will the information then be circulated to allow submitters to assess it and incorporate the results into their final submissions? Concept testing: As we noted earlier in this submission, there is an inherent difficulty in asking for feedback on a ‘concept’ at the same time as asking for detailed contributions on this ‘concept’.
E. DETAILED RESPONSE TO PROPOSED MODEL 4(B) PRACTICUM ISSUES Lincoln has had a proud history of offering hands-on learning which in some cases involves practical work at an outside organisation. However, this has mostly been summer work (not credited or assessed as a paper) or short field trips/tours within a course. A few years ago there was a trial of more formally assessed placements (Work Integrated Learning) but this was not a great success (academically or financially). While work experience can be a useful adjunct to coursework, the proposal for every student in a degree to complete a practicum is problematic. Questions 1. How will the university guarantee that the large numbers doing practicums at the one time will be able to find placements? (It is unlikely that small companies or even the Crown Research Institutes will be prepared to take on large numbers of students at the same time). 2. With potentially large and reoccurring numbers, it is likely that external partners will expect payment for handling practicums. What has the university budgeted for this and how will it be funded? What supervision and reporting requirements will be expected of the organisations taking on practicums? 3. How will the university deal with a student who fails a core course before the practicum? How will a student be able to make up the course in time to start their practicum? What other options will be available to a student who has not passed the requisite courses before the practicum? 4. How will the university ensure that academically weak students do not end up embarrassing Lincoln while on their practicum (and potentially causing external partners to stop taking more students)? 5. Other institutions with a “practicum-like” component (e.g. Waterloo’s sandwich degrees) operate with a generous staff/student ratio to ensure the success of the placements. How much has the university budgeted to run practicums (in terms of academic and support staff)? Where will the required funding come from, especially if additional staff are required? 6. The model shows the practicum in semester two of the second year. How will the university deal with the “lop sided” distribution of work throughout the year (e.g. on teaching staff, staff administrating the practicums, halls of residences, etc.)? 7. If the practicum is in semester two (mostly during winter), how will this impact on students who must undertake farm or other seasonal activity that does not occur at this time of the year? 8. The model shows that students will not have taken any 300 level courses before their practicum. How will the university ensure that students will be sufficiently prepared in their specialist areas to be able to fully participate in their practicum?
9. It is likely that some students will need to travel or live elsewhere for their practicum. How will the university mitigate the additional costs and effort that students may have to undertake, especially international students? 10. What impact will the practicum have on the existing use of field trips and tours? 11. A 60 credit practicum is the equivalent of four undergraduate courses. What learning objectives are envisaged that would justify this level of credit for the practicum? 12. As the practicum will be worth 60 credits, rigorous assessment will be essential. What assessment requirements are envisioned for the practicum? What role will the external organisation play in assessment? How will the university guarantee assessment comparability between different disciplines, supervisors and external organisations?
ACADEMIC QUALITY ISSUES Replacing (most) of the existing qualifications with a completely new set is a daunting task, especially at the pace required in the proposed timetable. An important consideration is how discontinuing many of the current Lincoln University degrees and majors could impact on the quality of our academic offerings and on research activities (including postgraduate teaching). Questions 1. How will the university guarantee that the new qualifications will be “academically rigorous” and “fit for purpose” given the very tight timelines? How will the university guarantee that the Faculty Teaching Committee, Academic Programme Committee, Academic Board, etc. have enough time to make considered appraisals of the overall concepts and detailed regulations? What will happen to the proposals if the milestones cannot be met or if CUAP (or other considerations) require major reworking? 2. Staff have already put in a huge amount of time for just the consultation phase for the proposal and can see a massive amount of additional work ahead. How will the university assist staff to be able to maintain their current teaching, research and administrative commitments as well as do the necessary work on implementation of the reform? How will the university deal with the inevitable productivity (and morale) drop for staff activities? How will this work impact on staff aspirations through PD&As and promotion applications? 3. It has been stated that reform will lead to some reduction in staff. How will the university compensate for losses in research or postgraduate teaching if staffing capability and expertise are reduced? How does the university propose to handle the research and postgraduate teaching done in areas no longer supported by undergraduate programmes? 4. The proposed practicum and ‘common core’ together would take up at least a year of study which would normally be allocated to preparing for advancing study. How will this impact on the “preparedness” of students to undertake 300 level courses? How does the university suggest that material supplanted by the core/practicum be included to maintain the rigour of our offerings? 13
5. Following on from the previous point, what will be the “knock-on” impact on Lincoln graduates for preparedness for postgraduate study? Will the university need to consider running bridging courses to get graduates up to speed for postgraduate study? 6. Many of Lincoln University’s degree programmes are well known and understood (and respected!) by industry. How will the university deal with any loss of industry confidence if these degrees are phased out? What evidence does the university have that the new degrees will find acceptance with employers? 7. The ‘common core’ courses would presumably have to be designed for students with little background (e.g. those who did not take specific preparatory courses in high school). How will the university ensure that the level of achievement in these courses is at tertiary level? What will be the impact of lower level common core courses on those pursuing further study in these areas as 200 or 300 level? 8. The AVC Academic was reported in the Press as saying that “fewer courses would be offered, but they would be more in-depth and intense than those already available”. Please explain how this is possible, given that the common core (and practicum) means that students will likely do fewer degree specific courses as part of their study? 9. There would need to be new graduate profiles for the new degrees. How will the university devise these profiles and when will this occur in the design process? What impact will the changes have on the graduate profiles for existing degrees to be retained? 10. The proposed changes to core (university, degree, major) imply a substantial change to prerequisites for higher level courses. How will prerequisites be determined for the courses in the new degrees? How will the university guarantee academic rigour in the progression through a course hierarchy?
INDIGENOUS MAJORS Māori TEU members have concerns about the lack of detail in the consultation document regarding the indigenous majors concept, and the potential for this new qualification pathway to shift focus away from work being done to support Māori students and Māori development. We would support an approach that sees much greater integration of Māori dimensions of knowledge across all programmes, as part of a comprehensive, university-wide strategy for Māori development. This needs to happen regardless of whether this current proposal or another model is implemented. However in regards to the indigenous majors concept because there is so little detail, it is difficult to assess the possible merits of such an approach. Of particular concern is the absence of reference to Māori in the indigenous majors concept. Does this indicate that a seperate strategy for Māori aspirations and development will sit alongside the indigenous majors concept? Or will Māori dimensions of knowledge be subsumed into this new stream? Improving Māori learner outcomes is a university-wide responsibility and does not simply rest with Māori staff. Additionally, the development of knowledge and understanding of 14
Māori world views and iwi/Māori development aspirations is a vital element of the learning experience for all students. The introduction of a model such as the proposed indigenous majors, whilst potentially positive, in many respects seems premature. This is because in our view, critical elements of an overarching framework for Māori development such as the integration of Māori dimensions of knowledge and the development of tangible relationships with mana whenua and Māori organisations across all programmes within the university are at an embryonic stage. It is this level of institutional committment that we see as being vital to the success of Māori learners, and should take precedence over the indigenous majors concept. We hope that the development work being undertaken by the AVC Communities will address these concerns, however as we noted earlier in the submission, it is difficult to understand how this work will link with the Proposal for Qualifications Reform as little mention has been made in the consultation document. Other TEU members are also concerned about the overall lack of detail in this part of the proposal, given that it would be a significant new direction for the university. In addition to the specific issues noted by Māori members are the following: Questions 1. What exactly does the university mean by “indigenous studies” and how does it relate to current offering such as the MAST courses? Is there an intention to continue with the MAST courses or would these be supplanted by new indigenous studies courses? 2. The enrolments of Māori and Pasifika students at Lincoln have historically been low. In addition, relatively few domestic or international students enrol in the MAST courses (or the previously offered degrees in Māori Planning and Development). In what ways will the offering of indigenous studies improve enrolments by students (and is there any evidence for this)? 3. What sort of content would be part of an indigenous studies major? How would the Science, Commerce and Environment, Society and Design versions of the major be different? What market research has been done to determine how attractive the majors in indigenous studies might be? 4. There are currently few Māori/Pasifika staff at Lincoln. If offering indigenous studies did bring in significant new enrolments, how will the university fund and fill the new staffing positions that would be required?
IMPACT ON THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE The wholesale nature of the proposed reforms will vastly alter student experiences and is likely to raise important issues for them. It is unfortunate that the tight timelines for this consultation mean that students remain largely excluded from the process. TEU assumes they would be concerned about several aspects of the proposal including: transition arrangements; the on-going quality of courses and degrees; and the quality of student life at Lincoln. Concerns TEU members have include: Questions 1. If new degrees supplant existing ones, many students will need to complete the “old degrees” while others may want to transfer to one of the new degrees. How will the university facilitate these options, especially mapping of old to new courses? 2. With respect to current students who wish to complete a superseded degree, how will the university handle offerings of the old courses, ie how long will these be retained and what options will be available to students who fail an old course needed to complete their degree? How will the university support those students studying the old degrees part-time? 3. What research has the university undertaken on the preferences of high school leavers and other potential students that support the inclusion of university-wide ‘common cores’ which may act to restrict student course choice, particularly in the first year of study? 4. What implications are there from the relevant Lincoln University student satisfaction survey data (eg for the FESD common courses) about the impact of a limited ‘common core’? 5. The proposal is silent on the role of the current additional majors and minors. What is the university’s intention in relation to these? 6. How will the university convince potential students (and their parents) that the new degrees will lead to similar or better employment outcomes than our current degrees? How will the university minimise the loss of “visibility” for disciplines/areas of application that could occur with the discontinuation of any of specially named degrees (e.g. BSRM or BTM)? 7. Similar to the above, how will the university avoid the reforms being seen as costcutting or as evidence of an uncertain future for Lincoln (possibly leading to lower enrolments)? 8. To quote from the official website: “Don't get lost in the crowd… You're not just a number, here students come first… Our lecturers have an 'open door policy'.” How does the university propose to maintain these qualities when the ‘common core’ and overall reduction in offerings will result in a number of courses with very large enrolments?
IMPLEMENTATION While it proposed that the exact details for the revised qualifications (regulations, core and course content, etc.) will be worked on throughout the year, there are some important implementation issues that demand more immediate answers. These include how the development will be managed; the impacts on staff, plant, equipment; and how the changes will be carried out in a way that will ensure Lincoln a sustainable future. Questions 1. It seems likely that some academic staff will have to shift into areas that do not reflect their expertise. How will the university support those required to change their teaching and research focus (e.g. will they be offered appropriate retraining)? 2. There may also be staff redundancies. How will the university handle this in a way that will not involve drawn out negotiations (or even litigation) and without damaging the morale of remaining staff? 3. The proposal suggests that displaced staff may be refocused on research (including postgraduate supervision). How does the university intend to support this, e.g. to help staff obtain public funding (which is very over-subscribed)? If the university intends to increase post graduate numbers, what additional support (funding and otherwise) will be provided? 4. Given the previous points, what is the university’s intention towards support staff involved in disestablished areas? What sort of options for redeployment/retraining will be made available? 5. Staff will need to continue teaching the old qualifications for at least another three years (as well as meet their other responsibilities such as publication and supervision). Given that many staff are carrying more than a full work load, how will the university support staff to carry out the development work for the new degrees and courses? Will additional staff be employed to assist in current teaching or planning work? 6. Some of the degrees to be retained (e.g. BAgSc, BV&O) rely on courses used in other degrees that may be removed or heavily modified. How will the university handle changes to key courses that are required in the retained degrees? What will the impact be of any course changes in these degrees on graduate profiles, CUAP approvals and industry accreditation? 7. The number of students to be accommodated within a reduced number of courses will mean increased class sizes, especially for the proposed ‘common core’. While ‘blended learning’ provides some capacity to deal with large classes, there will be times when the entire class cohort will need to come together. How does the university intend to provide the physical capacity required by very large classes? Will a new 600-800 seat lecture theatres be required or lectures be streamed into multiple theatres? If multiple streams for large classes are used, what impact will this have on the cost savings envisaged? 8. Following on from the above, there will still be a need for tutorial (or laboratory sessions) as well as assessment assistance. What level and type of tutorial support 17
does the university propose for large classes? What impact will the reforms have on the number of tutors required and will this impact on the projected cost savings? 9. In addition to staff, there is the issue of space for laboratories and tutorials. How will the university ensure that there will be sufficient smaller rooms with appropriate equipment available to support labs and tutorials? What will the impact of scheduling large classes have on the room allocation and availability? 10. The proposals are predicated on increasing student numbers but the university is already close to its government cap for domestic students, and international student numbers have been adversely affected by the earthquake. How does the university intend to deal with these issues? In what ways will students be “enticed” to come to Lincoln University?
HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPLICATIONS The Proposal for Qualification Reform has raised some concerns for the TEU in terms of health and safety for both staff and students. If the proposal is approved in its current format, we will have much larger class sizes in the core subjects and we are concerned about how this will be managed. The university currently does not have any lecture rooms or laboratories that are capable of containing such large classes, so we expect there will have to be duplicated lectures and laboratory classes. Even so, it seems likely that there will be many more situations where rooms are at their capacity in terms of safe numbers, as detailed in our building codes and fire service recommendations. While this is not ideal even in a lecture situation, the potential for accidents and injuries is greatly enhanced with larger groups of students in a laboratory setting. Not only does this put students at risk, it increases the risk to staff and the university in terms of managing these risks and/or dealing with the repercussions of increased injury rates. Question: What plans are being considered to cope with larger groups in lecture rooms and laboratories? We also have very serious concerns about the practicum component of the proposal. The preferred option in the proposal, (option 4b) is recommending that students complete 60 credits of practical assessments in the second year. With very little detail of how this will be achieved, it can only be assumed that in some cases, this will involve putting our students into a ‘working’ situation to earn practical credits. This raises the issue of who will be responsible for the health and safety of that student with respect to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. In a situation where the university has entered into a contract with another person or organisation to provide education/credits for the student, the university is bound by the regulations specified in the Act. Both parties of the contract will have responsibility for providing a safe working environment. In some situations, there may be little risk, but TEU members are very concerned about how this will impact on staff and the university if the student is placed into one of the more hazardous environments such as agriculture. The risk factor will be increased because the student will be placed into this environment in only their second year of study, with the first year being very generic and not contributing significantly to the skills and knowledge that
will be needed in such an environment. The risk will be enhanced further if that student is an international student with English as a second language. Questions 1. Where will lectures for larger groups be held? Is it practical or possible to arrange the multitude of larger classes in the 1st core year in the limited number of large lecture theatres on campus? 2. Where will the laboratory classes for larger groups be held? Has the safety aspect for larger classes been considered, and what will be the process for managing this risk? Has it been considered that many more laboratory demonstrators will be needed to manage these classes? 3. Where is Lincoln University going to place students for the practicum component and are the “practicum employers” aware of the health and safety obligations associated with this? 4. Has Lincoln University considered our own obligations to students and practicum employers in terms of the HSE Act 1992? 5. Has Lincoln University considered that this places increased risk and therefore increased responsibility on our staff in terms of managing health and safety in laboratories and in the practicum environment? 6. Has Lincoln University considered (in the wake of two years of earthquakes and associated problems with EQC etc.), the extent to which this proposal has added yet another layer of stress and concern for the future of our staff, and that many of them feel like this is “a kick in the guts when we’re already down”? Did Lincoln University consider that it would have been far less troublesome to have specified at the outset that this was a concept idea and that some serious and critical thinking was required to remedy the situation the university in?
F. CONCLUSION As we noted earlier in this submission, the Proposal for Qualification Reform appears to be based on unproven assumptions about student satisfaction with the university’s current programme and qualification structure, and poorly-evidenced statements about future industry requirements. TEU members are not opposed to change at Lincoln University. However the extent of change indicated by this proposal and the speed at which the university intends to progress it, raises serious concerns for members. We hold grave concerns that the proposal will not meet the required standard for CUAP, and will expose Lincoln University and its staff to the risk of failure, to negative impacts on current programmes, and to the university’s overall reputation. We have seen no evidence that the Minister requires the university to act in this way, and with such urgency. We have seen no evidence that the proposal will produce economic savings. These assertions are not quantified, either in terms of what the university 19
needs to reduce operating expenditure by, or the anticipated reduction that will be achieved with this proposal. If economic savings are possible, it is likely to take a number of years before there are any financial gains to be made. TEU members want to engage in a genuine process of consultation that ensures academic rigour for any final qualifications structure, and that takes into account the many operational issues that should be considered and addressed before implementation of a new model. We therefore look forward to working with the Lincoln University Vice Chancellor and senior management on a carefully considered, thoroughly researched and widely accepted model for any future changes to the current qualifications structure.
Published on Feb 26, 2013