AUT wants TEC to change

By David Williams (he/him)

AUT’s new student success plan is a radical rethink in how the Tertiary Education Committee could fund universities. The plan, called Ki Uta Ki Tai, “enables a values- led engagement and strategic process centred on manaakitanga, learning, empowerment, enduring relationships, and sustainability.” Traditionally, educational institutions make investment plans based on the number of enrolments they plan to have. The committee will then look at the plan to assess funding for each institution based on student numbers.

However, AUT says Ki Uta Ki Tai represents a new way of measuring student success. The university says its student success plan reflects “a holistic view where an individual’s place in the world is part of a larger cycle, and enduring relationships and reciprocity are valued above fleeting functional exchanges.” Vice-Chancellor Damon Salesa says such a plan will align with the way AUT operates. “There is something very distinctive about the students we attract to AUT.” “AUT has a particularly important contribution to make in this area and we’re making it on a scale that other universities aren’t, and we would like the resources to implement our plan.” “We see it as being above business as usual, but we’re not sure to what extent it will be funded.” AUT says Ki Uta Ki Tai supersedes the industrial, functional vision of the individual, the pipeline, or the EFTS as the framing of university strategy and planning.

The university has very strong cohorts of university students from different backgrounds: 10 percent Māori, 20 percent Pasifika. Large proportions of students come from decile 9 and 10 schools. For many of the students from these backgrounds, Covid has made economic inequalities worse. However, the TEC’s funding model currently is the same as it was two years ago. Salesa says the one-size-fits-all TEC funding model does not work for a university such as AUT.

“Students are funded as if they are much of a muchness. Students are largely funded the same.” He would like universities funded along the lines of the compulsory schools sector. “An equity index approach means those students with different challenges and contexts for learning are recognised in the funding model.” "If university funding was delivered along the high school models, AUT would be a great beneficiary.” He says if students are to be able to realise their potential, the funding needs to reflect that. “Universities have to dig deeper, and it’s the right thing to do. But it does mean that extra work is not recognised in our current funding model.” He says if a university is doing more work, and AUT is definitely doing more than other parts of the sector, that responsibility will sit heavier with AUT.