Working parties set up as part of the joint taskforce between Wanganui District Council and UCOL have met for the first time.
The taskforce was established in the wake of community concern about the future of the tertiary institution in Wanganui when UCOL announced cutbacks in staff and in some key courses late last year. The four working parties are tasked with generating ideas that reflect the community's ambitions. More than 30 people from a range of backgrounds and interests are involved. Wanganui mayor Annette Main, who chairs the taskforce, said they appreciated the willingness of people to be involved, donating their time at short notice. Ms Main said those working parties would look at fine arts and glass education, the provision of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education; the provision of training to those not engaged in employment, education or training (NEETs); and UCOL Whanganui community connections. They would meet regularly, gathering and analysing their ideas before presenting proposals to the taskforce governance group for consideration.
She said the council and UCOL wanted to identify relevant community needs for tertiary education and, where sustainable, see those needs met in the region.
The taskforce's recommendations would be considered by the WDC and UCOL with both bodies then deciding what they could commit to for 2014 and beyond. Two senior officials from the Tertiary Education Commission attended a recent governance group meeting and outlined government's priorities and expectations for tertiary education.