Hair courses reinstated but arts, glass still gone

By John Maslin

Wanganui Mayor Annette Main says she is at a loss to understand the latest moves taken by UCOL management that directly affect the Wanganui campus.

UCOL chief executive Paul McElroy announced the certificate of hairdressing course would be reinstated, after announcing last month that the level one and two courses had been axed.

But Ms Main said although she was pleased the course was back, she remained "extremely disappointed" with UCOL's stance on the fine arts and glass courses, which meant no intake of first year students on those courses next year.

She could not understand the reasoning behind Mr McElroy's latest statements.

It was pleasing UCOL had reinstated hours for the glass tutors. "But why doesn't that flow on to the first year art courses? He talks about uncertainties surrounding the courses and the campus, but why isn't he talking to us about these uncertainties?"

She said she was irked by Mr McElroy's references to the taskforce that UCOL and the district council agreed would meet to thrash out issues around the fine arts and glass courses.

Mr McElroy said UCOL was looking forward to working with the council on how to provide sustainable tertiary education in Wanganui, looking specifically at fine arts and glass education "in a way which supports Wanganui's strength as a community with a strong art and glass focus".

Ms Main said there had been no taskforce meeting but "we're not giving up on this".

S She had sent a strongly worded letter to Minister of Tertiary Education Stephen Joyce a week ago about the cuts and what they meant for the city. She was aware the arts community had also sent a letter.

She said Whanganui MP Chester Borrows had organised a meeting with Mr McElroy today and had invited Ms Main to participate.

Along with those cuts, UCOL also said six and-a-half full-time positions would go.

Two of the other roles to go were in the hairdressing school but the reinstatement of that course has saved those positions.

Mr McElroy said while most programmes will be offered at Whanganui UCOL next year, there remained exceptions. Among them are the national certificate in business administration level 4, and the certificate in hairdressing (ITO) level 4.

And he reiterated the "pause" in the first year fine arts and glass school intake in 2013 while more sustainable options are considered. He said this reflected the feedback from staff, the district council, members of the public "and last-minute negotiations with the Tertiary Education Commission".

He said they had managed to achieve savings in some operating costs, which had helped to offset the effect on programmes and staff. But Ms Main said the fine arts and glass courses were critical for current and future students and the community.

"Council has committed to work with UCOL to ensure that the reputation of our city remains an attractive and highly thought of centre for the arts."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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