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August 17, 2009 | by  | in News |
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No EFTPOSsible – education kids DECLINED

Victoria University Early Childhood Education students are becoming increasingly frustrated by the quality of education they are receiving, as the effects of budget cuts at the Faculty of Education begin to take hold.

Students have said that they are no longer receiving the support they require in their courses.

Early Childhood Education student Helen Lockley said she has noticed a change in the atmosphere at Karori since this year’s budget cuts took effect.

“Basically they are making Karori redundant.”

This sentiment is echoed by others, who have found that their courses are becoming largely self-taught.

Leah Rowbotham said many of her classmates no longer attend lectures.

“The only stuff we actually learn, we have to teach ourselves.”

The Faculty of Education has been in overhaul mode throughout 2009, after a $1.7 million budget blow-out last year.

University-wide cutbacks, prompted by the May budget announcement of an effective freeze to government funding for tertiary education, has put further financial pressure on the Faculty of Education.

Tertiary education institutions in New Zealand receive funding from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for a designated number of domestic equivalent full-time student (EFTS) numbers each year. Tertiary education institutions do not receive funding for numbers above those caps.

A nationwide increase in EFTS at levels beyond the TEC funding cap is adding to the financial strain experienced by universities, including Victoria, in the current economic climate.
For students studying at the Faculty of Education, this has meant reduced lecture times and the effective closure of the Teaching Resource Centre.

Tutorials have been halved and replaced with ‘studio time’.

Both Lockley and Rowbotham have slammed the use of studio time as an excuse for students to maintain full-time status.

“Basically we were going to go down to being part-time students if they didn’t chuck in studio time,” Rowbotham said.

A brief for a CUST212 class stated that studio time is designed as a “Student Independent Tutorial”. Attendance is compulsory.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Education Professor Dugald Scott said that the use of studio time in place of tutorials is reflective of the culture of university.

“One of the key characteristics of a university is the development of intellectual independence. Studio time is an important part of that development.”

Rowbotham said studio time is usually timetabled immediately after her tutorials, except the tutor leaves, and no one comes back to sign full attendance off.

“Most people just leave after that,” she said.

These changes come as no surprise to the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI).

“The traditional method of teaching at university is very different to the way we teach teachers…these changes are common where institutions have merged,” executive officer Jenny Davies said.

NZEI represents teachers already qualified and in employment, however, Davies said they have spoken out about the Faculty of Education budget changes in the past due to their concern for the future of the profession.

Professor Scott said changes to the structure of the Early Childhood Programme is reflective of the wider changes taking place within the Faculty of Education. A move, he said, is necessary.

“Teaching at Victoria has been progressively moving…to ensure that all teachers have a breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to be effective teachers in today’s society,” he said.

“The changes bring early childhood teacher education into line with what has been available for some years at Victoria for primary and secondary teacher education.”
Lockley, however, believes that these changes have wrecked the credibility of the Karori campus, and made her degree valued less in the real world.

“They screwed me over.”

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  1. a.w. says:

    My sympathies go out to these guys – I’m in the secondary teaching programme, but I know the frustration of studio time, amongst some of the other problems at Karori at the moment.

    In some ways I hope that more people don’t do teaching next year – not at vic – because at least that way the smaller group might actually get the support we all need.

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