On 13 February 2019, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a wide-ranging proposal to create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, bringing together 16 public Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) as a single entity.
Otago Polytechnic felt that two of the Minister’s proposals were to be applauded – i.e. a fit-for-purpose funding system and the establishment of a more seamless system that integrates learning in work with learning in institutions.
The transfer of all industry training to polytechnics also made sense, and will benefit learners with a simpler system and the high-quality support for which we are renowned.
However, the particular proposal to establish a single institution will relegate Otago Polytechnic to a branch of the parent institution, remove our operational decision-making and constrain significantly our ability to be innovative and responsive to our region.
We believed that the Minister’s proposal could be redeemed through a model that combines the best of a centralised approach with well-funded, regionally responsive institutions and sent a submission outlining how we felt this could work.
Otago Polytechnic is a strong, stable, flexible, innovative and – significantly – growing organisation that brings significant economic and social benefits to Otago.
Our community can rest assured – we did our utmost to preserve what many see as a regional treasure, and to persuade the Minister to put in place a model more empowering of our institutions.
The wide-ranging proposals to the ITP sector include:
- 16 existing ITPs to become one entity, with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST), from 1 January 2020
- current ITPs become regional branches
- staff will become employees of NZIST
- ITOs current provision of apprenticeships to be transferred to ITPs
- capital development centralised
- new funding system
- a national governing council (appointed by the Minister) responsible for capital and operational strategies as well as asset management
- standardised programmes of learning
- programme development centralised
- Open Polytechnic to be sole provider of distance learning