Otago Polytechnic

Hi all,

I am supporting an “open letter” to Dunedin’s MPs that attempts to impart to them the deeply held belief that the proposed Reform of Vocational Education will severely diminish Otago Polytechnic – and all who work so hard to uphold our many values and passions.

The intention is for the letter (see below) to be published in the ODT to remind the public – and politicians – that the heat around this contentious issue hasn’t dissipated; nor is the fire gone from our bellies (sorry, I spend too much time near kitchens).

My hope is that colleagues will agree to put their names to this open letter.

However, the clock is ticking. Otago Polytechnic would like to get this off to the ODT in the next few days (probably the week starting 15 July), in the hope that it might spark them – and others – to go into bat for us.

In short, the sooner you indicate you are willing to have your name added to the letter, the better.

Please email Andrea.Hessian@op.ac.nz if you are willing to add your name to the growing list.


Richard Mitchell

Professor in Food Design, Otago Polytechnic


“It is our understanding the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, intends to proceed with his proposal to merge all 16 New Zealand’s Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) into one entity.  This restructuring will create a system comprising many branches managed by a Head Office and will remove the autonomy of current Polytechnic providers – even if they are permitted to keep their brands. 

We believe this structural model will fail to create a world-class Vocational Education system, and will not be good for New Zealand, let alone Otago, Dunedin or Otago Polytechnic.  The intended structural model is a recipe for bureaucracy and standardisation which in turn undermine agility, responsiveness and innovation where it is most needed, i.e. in the regions at the point of delivery.

We do believe there is a need to reform Vocational Education in New Zealand, such reform requiring:

  • Some centralisation of decision-making, confined to those areas which will demonstrably make for a more effective and efficient VE system, such as strategic planning, shared curriculum services, rationalisation over time of VE  infrastructure, oversight of quality.
  • A strong network of legally autonomous regional providers with the legislated powers to respond effectively to local and regional needs and to innovate.
  • Significant and immediate investment in a VE system which has been neglected for more than a decade by successive governments, including the present Coalition.

The Otago Polytechnic submission, available on our web site, expands on all of these points.

It is also our understanding that the Minister intends to take steps to close Otago Polytechnic’s Auckland campus, as well as other providers' ‘out of region’ campuses, in spite of the fact that these international campuses are not competing within NZ.

We note that there has been and still is significant underspending in the ITP sector, so there is no shortage of funds which enable Government to take decisive and immediate action.

We therefore call on you as our local MPs to stand up publicly for Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, Otago and NZ and take action as follows:

  • Support unequivocally Otago Polytechnic continuing as a legally constituted Vocational Education provider with autonomy to make decisions about what learning is delivered and how, and to provide all other ITPs with the levels of autonomy commensurate with their financial and educational performance
  • Advocate strongly for  immediate changes to the ITP funding model, ensuring it is fit for purpose by recognising the real cost drivers in the system, and the diversity and complexity of provision across NZ
  • Advocate strongly for increased investment in the Vocational Education system to make it world-class: facilities, educational programmes, teacher training, leadership development, research and innovation
  • Support unequivocally Otago Polytechnic retaining its Auckland International Campus.”

Published on 3 Jul 2019

Orderdate: 3 Jul 2019
Expiry: 11 Jul 2020