Investigation at Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki completed

Investigation at Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki completed

Last updated 11 November 2014
Last updated 11 November 2014

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have completed an investigation into practices at the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) including the delivery of the National Certificate and Diploma in Māori Performing Arts.

The investigation was prompted after WITT raised their concerns with the TEC about the delivery of its Māori performing arts programmes.

An independent report by Deloitte, prepared as part of the investigation, found that WITT was overfunded for the delivery of the National Certificate and Diploma in Māori Performing Arts Levels 4 and 6. Deloitte also found that reporting, attendance record keeping and management controls for the Māori performing arts programmes at the WITT were poor and that there was a lack of evidence that assessment practices associated with the programmes met the standards required by NZQA.

As a consequence, the TEC has recovered $3.7 million from WITT. This recovery takes into consideration Crown funds provided to the institute to deliver the National Certificate and Diploma in Māori Performing Arts Levels 4 and 6 from 2009 to 2013. The overfunding had accumulated because the delivery of the programmes at WITT did not meet the relevant NZQA accreditation, and TEC funding requirements.

“As a tertiary education provider WITT has a responsibility to deliver to its learners what it has agreed with the TEC and NZQA, and what it has been funded to deliver. WITT has failed to do this in this instance. The TEC is taking action by recovering the overfunding and continuing to work with WITT to ensure this cannot happen again,” said TEC chief executive officer Tim Fowler. 

NZQA’s key focus is the affected students and ensuring they are not disadvantaged says NZQA deputy chief executive Jane von Dadelszen.

“WITT is taking seriously the responsibility it has to its students. NZQA is working with WITT to ensure it puts solutions in place. WITT has said it will provide students the opportunity to repeat the programme in total and resit the required assessments at no cost.”

Affected students will be contacted by WITT to talk through the options available to them.

As part of the investigation additional programmes at the institute were reviewed and no issues were found. 

Earlier this month the TEC and NZQA announced focused reviews to be carried out in selected tertiary education organisations (TEOs) by independent auditors. The reviews will focus on TEOs who offer programmes that display similar features to those highlighted at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and WITT.  These include:

  • a high level of sub-contracting, and/or
  • programmes with very high course and qualification completion rates, and/or
  • courses that have grown very rapidly. 

The focused review process has started and those TEOs who are selected will be contacted shortly.

NZQA and the TEC have recently contacted board chairs and directors of all TEOs and reminded them of their obligations.

“We have sought reassurance that TEOs are meeting their obligations. In our discussions with the sector, we’ve been clear that we’ll take a zero tolerance approach to organisations failing to follow the rules,” says Mr Fowler.

”We’ve received a positive response from the sector. They are very well aware of our requirements and expectations and importantly, the roles they play in ensuring these are delivered.” 

The TEC has three reviews currently underway. These include at the Wairarapa based private training establishment Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, the on-going review at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi into the Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts programme and an investigation at the Manaakitanga Aotearoa Charitable Trust private training establishment.

The TEC audit reports into WITT and the Deloitte review letter are available to view on the Investigations page of this website.