The Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) is based on the West Coast, with delivery of education provision on the West Coast as well as in Auckland and Christchurch. TPP is forecasting a significant financial deficit for 2016 (against an original forecast of a small surplus) as a result of falling student numbers. Furthermore, TPP has acknowledged that without significant change, it will not have sufficient funds to meet its financial obligations. This has been verified by an independent review undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Earlier in 2016, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) commissioned an investigation of TPP’s delivery of teaching against funding conditions, as a result of some issues revealed in an audit undertaken as part of the TEC’s regular audit programme. The draft findings of an investigation undertaken by Deloitte indicate serious under-delivery of provision in a number of programmes TPP provides. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is currently undertaking an assessment of qualifications TPP provides in response to these draft findings.
The council of TPP wrote to me on 8 November 2016 requesting that I consider appointing a Crown manager to address these issues. Having considered:
- this request;
- available information; and
- the Risk Assessment Criteria for Tertiary Education Institutions (determined and published by the Secretary for Education pursuant to section 195A of the Education Act 1989)
I gave notice of an intention to appoint a Crown manager for TPP on 21 November 2016. At that time, I believed there was a serious risk to the operation or long-term viability of TPP and that the education performance of students at TPP may be at risk for the reasons set out above. I signalled that I intended to appoint a Crown manager to TPP with the objective of:
- ensuring that there is access to tertiary level vocational education and training on the West Coast that:
- is effective, sustainable and of high quality;
- is appropriate to the needs of students and employers; and
- contributes to the economic development of the West Coast;
- improving TPP’s financial performance, management and reporting systems; and
- ensuring the appropriate use of public funding.
I received submissions from TPP on 30 November 2016 in response to my notice of intention to appoint a Crown manager. Having considered those submissions, I have confirmed my belief that there is a serious risk to the operation or long-term viability of TPP and that the educational performance of students at TPP may be at risk. I therefore appoint a Crown manager on the basis below and with the continued objectives outlined below.
Pursuant to a request by the council of TPP under section 222F of the Education Act 1989, I give notice, under section 222C of the Education Act 1989, of appointment of a Crown manager for TPP. The Crown manager is
and his appointment will take effect on 12 December 2016.
The Crown manager will perform the following functions:
- Monitor and evaluate the performance of the chief executive – the Crown manager will be responsible for all matters relating to the employment of the chief executive (although the TPP council will remain his employer for contractual and legislative purposes);
- prepare TPP’s proposed investment plan except in relation to the provision of tertiary education programmes and activities on the West Coast (which will be prepared by the council in consultation with the Crown manager);
- in relation to TPP’s current investment plan for 2015–2016:
- ensure that TPP is managed in accordance with the overall investment plan; and
- determine policies to implement that plan including in relation to its financial performance, to address the final findings of the Deloitte investigation (if any) into its educational performance and to assess any issues arising from NZQA’s assessment of qualifications provided by TPP (if any);
- determine, subject to the State Sector Act 1988, TPP’s policies in relation to its financial management, financial reporting, financial strategy, including reviewing existing budgets and preparing any future budgets; and
- undertake planning relating to TPP’s long-term strategic direction, in particular with regard to ensuring continued provision on the West Coast.
The conditions subject to which the Crown manager may perform the functions are as follows:
- the Crown manager will work co-operatively with the council and will, where appropriate, engage with third party stakeholders;
- the council will retain its primary duty of care as a person conducting a business or undertaking, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, above and beyond all functions, duties and powers of the Crown manager.
The Crown manager will, as he considers appropriate, advise the council on matters relating to his functions.
Dated at Wellington this 12th day of December 2016.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment.