Evaluating changes in governance of TEIs

Evaluating changes in governance of TEIs

Last updated 9 November 2016
Last updated 9 November 2016

This page provides information about our evaluation of changes in the governance of tertiary education institutions (TEIs).

Case studies

We have so far compiled three case studies of governance-led initiatives in institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)

The case studies are part of a wider piece of work to evaluate the effect of the governance changes on ITPs that came into effect in 2010. We also intend to evaluate the 2015 changes to university and wānanga governance. 

The purpose of the case studies is to:

  • gain a better understanding of the impact governance can have on institutional performance
  • highlight successful initiatives
  • identify lessons that can be shared to support sector development.

The first three case studies look at the initiatives of ITPs:

  • WelTec and Whitireia
  • Open Polytechnic
  • NorthTec.

Students First: the strategic partnership between WelTec and Whitireia (PDF, 3 Mb)  




From distance learning to connected learning: Open Polytechnic’s new student journey (PDF, 1 Mb)




Kick for the seagulls: NorthTec’s new approach for the ‘kids up North’ (PDF, 2 Mb)




If you are interested in participating in a case study or have any questions, please contact governance@tec.govt.nz

Our evaluation of changes in governance

In 2010, we developed an evaluation framework to assess the impact of legislative changes on the governance of ITPs. This was in response to changes to the Education Act 1989 strengthening the governance of ITPs, including introducing 57 new appointments, 10 of whom were new council Chair positions.  

In the first phase of our evaluation we interviewed 19 ITP council Chairs and 12 ITP senior executive team members. Overall, we found that in the view of the respondents, the legislative changes had enhanced council operations.

In the second phase we interviewed 17 Chairs of ITP councils and conducted an in-depth focus on areas of good governance practice in a small sample of ITPs.

Key findings from interviews in phase two

The following are the key findings from the interviews with 17 Chairs of ITP councils.

  • Smaller council size enabling strategic leadership
    A consistent message from ITP council Chairs was that the reduced council size has significantly improved their council’s ability to provide effective leadership by increasing the council’s focus on strategic issues.
  • Skills-based councils seen as more effective
    Moving from a representative model to a skills-based model was also beneficial. In the view of council Chairs, making appointments based on skills, rather than representation, enabled more effective strategic discussion.
  • Collaboration and cooperation across the sector
    Some ITP council Chairs described how the shift to smaller skills-based councils had fostered an environment for increased collaboration and cooperation across the sector.
  • Strengthening performance
    Stronger strategic leadership has resulted in a number of initiatives that council Chairs cited as improvements to organisational performance.
  • Mechanisms to ensure stakeholder-relevant provision
    Council Chairs identified that the move away from representative councils had led to a different approach to stakeholder engagement, to ensure different stakeholder’s views were brought to the council table. Different models, including student and staff committees and student survey results, were emerging across the sector to enable staff and student voices to be heard effectively at the council table. In some cases, this was an iterative process, with councils actively reflecting on the most effective way to gain the views of students and staff.
  • Roles and responsibilities of council and management
    As indicated in the first phase of the evaluation, the council reforms helped to clarify roles and responsibilities between council and management, with the functions of council members set out in the legislation. Three years on, the interviews provided examples of an effective management–council interface aligned to the policy intent of the council, along with examples of effective strategic leadership.

If you have any questions, please contact governance@tec.govt.nz