NATION

Why FNU Discontinued Technical College Programmes

For students who wish to be sponsored by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board (TSLB), requirements state that they must be 17 years and above to qualify as one of the 1000 FNU TCF-allocated loans scheme recipients.
27 Jan 2021 09:50
Why FNU Discontinued Technical College Programmes
Vice Chancellor Professor Toby Wilkinson.

Since inception, the Fiji National University (FNU) has always prioritised the need to provide all Fijians with equal and affordable access to quality education in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education programmes.

As the national tertiary education provider with foundations deeply rooted in TVET, our programmes and operations are reviewed continuously to ensure our learning and teaching delivery correlate with the current and future industry needs, as well as international best practices.

Having acquired ownership of the Technical College of Fiji (TCF), a similar review was conducted in the areas of learning and teaching resources, programme quality, teacher qualifications and student numbers and facilities.

FNU TCF currently provides 11 Certificate II courses fields in agriculture, automotive mechanic and electrical, baking and patisserie, bodyworks and spray painting, cabinet making, cookery, carpentry, electrical fitter mechanic, plumbing and sheet metal and welding and fabrication that can be undertaken by students who have completed Year 10 studies.

For students who wish to be sponsored by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board (TSLB), requirements state that they must be 17 years and above to qualify as one of the 1000 FNU TCF-allocated loans scheme recipients.

Enrolment comparison

As at January 25, only 166 FNU TCF applications have been received, signalling a drastic decrease in demand for TCF programmes.

In comparison, FNU TCF received a total of 1504 applications for the same period last year.

Our Enrolment Centre teams have also noted that students who would typically enrol in FNU TCF Certificate II programmes enquired and showed more interest in FNU’s Certificate III and IV programmes.

The new TSLB policy stating that students are only eligible for one loan to fund their studies from this year may have also impacted this approach by students and their parents and guardians for the better.

The University had earlier stated that the decision to re-engage staff by offering a new contract would depend on the demand for the programmes provided by FNU TCF.

In November 2020, FNU started consultations with staff and signalled possible redundancies resulting from a lack of demand for the FNU TCF programmes.

Staff and the unions provided their input and suggestions at these consultations.

Redundancy

After much deliberation based on the low figures stated above and the consequent non-viability of TCF programmes, the University has concluded that the discontinuance of FNU TCF courses and the redundancy of 62 FNU TCF staff is now inevitable.

Students enrolled in FNU TCF courses will be assisted in enrolling into similar or related Certificate III and Certificate IV programmes at appropriate FNU campuses.

All staff, of which 59 are teaching and three non-teaching, have been notified today (25 January) and are being paid redundancy packages as per the University’s Redundancy policy and Fiji’s Employment Relations Act 2007.

Staff are also being paid their accrued entitlements and any outstanding payments, including FNPF contribution, up to and including their last day of employment. The relevant ministries and agencies have also been notified.

These staff can undertake reskilling opportunities at FNU when the possibility arises. Re-engagement will be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the need and availability of FNU positions.

This has not been an easy task, and we thank these staff for their valued contribution to the University and wish them well in their future endeavours.

The review was crucial to ensure that the quality of TVET training we provide to our students at FNU, as we embark on our second decade of existence, falls nothing short of international benchmarks.

Meanwhile, Professor Wilkinson recently arrived in the country. It is understood that he is in quarantine.

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj



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