Around 400 members of the public, including local Iwi, Pasifika, elected officials, business stakeholders and community groups, turned out last night to support Otago Polytechnic – as well as question Minister of Education Chris Hipkins over the Government’s proposal to reform the vocational education sector.
The consultation session featured reasoned, impassioned and, notably, respectful dialogue and questions from a wide cross-section of the community, who reminded Minister Hipkins that Otago Polytechnic is a strong, stable, flexible and innovative organisation that brings significant economic and cultural benefits to Otago and further afield.
Earlier in the day, more than 300 Otago Polytechnic staff expressed similar views during a consultation event with the Minister and Tertiary Education Commission Chief Executive Tim Fowler.
Otago Polytechnic is supportive of most of the Minister’s proposals, which signal well overdue change for vocational education in New Zealand.
Indeed, two of the Minister’s proposals are to be applauded – i.e. a fit-for-purpose funding system and the establishment of a more seamless training system that integrates learning in work with learning in institutions.
The transfer of all industry training to polytechnics also makes sense, and will benefit learners with a simpler system and the high-quality learner support which underpins polytechnic provision.
However, members of staff, as well as the public, consistently expressed concern about the Government’s proposal to merge the current 16 public Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) into a single entity – the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology.
There are concerns such a model would seriously constrain Otago Polytechnic as a regionally responsive institution and potentially see all-important decisions about vocational education in Otago made by a head office somewhere else in New Zealand.
The Minister clearly indicated he is open to changing the proposed model and that the consultation process should be regarded as a genuine desire by Government to engage in meaningful dialogue with its communities.
He also reiterated that he is seeking a vocational educational model that combines the best of a centralised approach with well-funded, regionally responsive institutions.
The consultation period lasts until 27 March. Otago Polytechnic encourages all of our partners, stakeholders and community to have their say.
Published on 06 March 2019
Orderdate: 06 Mar 2019
Expiry: 30 Jun 2019