Funding cut to Waiariki student union

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

The future of Waiariki Institute of Technology's student association is up in the air after funding was cut by the institute.

Waiariki signed a contract with its student association - Waiariki Institute of Technology Student Association (Witsa) - at the start of the year to help fund services such as advocacy, buddy programmes, orientation activities and health and welfare support.

Student association president Tony Te Huia received an email from Waiariki officials on Wednesday informing him they would be ending the Witsa contract for 2012.

Mr Te Huia said he was told this was a result of the association's underperformance and not meeting its duties as set out in the contract.

Mr Te Huia said it was nervous times for the union but they were optimistic a new contract could be agreed on between the association and Waiariki by the end of next week.

"Hopefully we can come to an agreement. If we can't Waiariki is condemning all seven campuses."

He said if they did not get funding back from Waiariki it would be the end of the association.

The cut comes as a double blow to the union which lost a chunk of their funding at the start of the year after a new law was introduced by the Government which made joining student unions optional.

Mr Te Huia said because of the law, the association was running at a loss even with funding from Waiariki.

Waiariki chief executive Margaret Noble released a statement yesterday which said the institute had ended the contract following a review of the student association.

"The institute became aware of under delivery while carrying out a regular review of the contract."

The release said they still wanted the services of the student association and would try to work out a new contract with them.

"Waiariki has not terminated its relationship with Witsa and is pro-actively working through a process of addressing the concerns with Witsa, so we would be in a better position to renew the contract."

She said she did not know when a new contract would be signed.

The student association is working with the national student union - the NZ United Students Association - and hopes to have a new contract to put before Waiariki next Wednesday.

The association has 130 paying members, three fulltime employees and advocates for all students at the institute. The funding comes from members, fundraisers and contracts similar to the one Waiariki provided.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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