UCOL breached trust: mayor

By John Maslin

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Wanganui Mayor Annette Main says a press release from UCOL yesterday confirming a year's hiatus in its fine arts and glass courses at the Wanganui campus was sending the wrong signals.

The release was made just as the council met in an extraordinary meeting to discuss UCOL's earlier announcement that a cut in government funding meant it was closing some courses next year, reducing staff numbers, and stopping enrolments in the 2013 fine arts and glass courses for one year.

Ms Main said that UCOL decision was made before the Wanganui District Council had the opportunity to provide input and she was upset "because they [the courses] were an absolutely essential part of the negotiations we have been having with them".

"We asked them to delay that until after our council meeting," she said.

"I want to be positive about our future relationship with UCOL but this is a two-way thing. I would have expected that they would talk to us first before issuing a press release.

"The way forward is for UCOL and council to be speaking positively about what the possibilities are for these courses. What we won't have is a message that goes out jointly. Instead, we've got a message that reacts to the decision," Ms Main said.

She said the council had met UCOL representatives on Monday and UCOL knew yesterday's council meeting was scheduled.

"So it was very disappointing to receive a media release from UCOL during our meeting saying that a final decision has been made and that a joint taskforce is being set up," the mayor said.

"While the concept of a joint taskforce may be a sensible approach to the future of sustainable tertiary education in Wanganui, the council would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss this further before a public announcement was made," Ms Main said.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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