Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive Phil Ker welcomes Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ revamped proposal to reform the Vocational Education sector.

“We are now in the first stages of moving into an entirely new vocational education system – and one that has picked up on all of the key points that Otago Polytechnic put forward in our submission.

“We have been able to put our views across. We have been heard.

“We argued for a system, rather than a head office, approach – and we’re getting a system approach.

“We argued for significant autonomy to be retained – and it is being retained for at least 2 ½ years.

“There will, of course, be devil in the detail, but we will be active players in trying to shape the system in a way that enables us to continue to flourish as an organisation.

“A key point is, we have not been bowled out of the game that we want to play – in fact, we’re playing with some modified rules that will bring great opportunities for learners, staff and Otago Polytechnic.

“We will fit into the tentatively-named New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) as a high-performing subsidiary – with the expectation that we will lead and share with the rest of the sector.

“What is clear is that it is business as usual until April 1 2020 and, after that, most likely business as usual for at least another two years.

“Prospective learners can enrol in multi-year programmes with confidence, knowing they will graduate as OP students and have access to all the student support that we currently offer.

“The reforms are now very much about establishing a new system of provision. All ITPs will continue as subsidiaries of the new institution for at least two years from April 1 2020, when the new order comes into being.

“There are many opportunities for Otago Polytechnic as a whole and for many of our staff to contribute to the development of a new networked model of vocational education.

“Staff will continue to be employed by Otago Polytechnic and, after April 1 2020, by Otago Polytechnic as a subsidiary of the new institution.

“We have absolute certainty that there will be no job changes as a result of these reforms until 1 April 2020. Moving into the new era, there will be another two years before the Government makes any further changes. In fact, the reform offers potential for growth in jobs at Otago Polytechnic.

“Importantly, our strong brand will also continue.”

The Minister also confirmed that degrees and postgraduate provision in Polytechnics will continue into the future, with no intentions of change. Otago Polytechnic will continue to apply to NZQA for further programme approvals.

“There are opportunities coming our way – and we will future-proof our organisation.”

Ker says it is also pleasing to see a clear intention from Government to design a fit-for-purpose funding model.

“All of the right features have been identified. However, there is a notable silence in addressing the serious current underfunding of the sector – and that is disappointing.

“We understand it may take two years to get a new model ready, but the sector needs an immediate funding boost to relieve the pressures that have arisen because of underfunding over the past decade.

“The money is already in the system. We urge the minister to act immediately.”

As part of the transition process, the Minister is setting up a new Establishment Board, which will have up to two years to manage the transition. The Board will be announced tomorrow (2 August) and come into effect on 1 April 2020. This will morph into the permanent board for NZIST.  

“Over the next 2 ½ years Otago Polytechnic will progress and systemise the innovations we already have,” Ker says.

“We will be even more agile in terms of the work we do and how we do it. We will continue to be responsive, innovative and flexible.

“Nothing in today’s announcement suggests there will be changes to Otago Polytechnic’s Auckland campus, although the Minister has indicated concerns over international student numbers being concentrated in Auckland, preferring a more regional spread.

“And given the strong regional focus in today’s announcement, I believe our Central Otago campus – and the Central Otago community – can look forward to further growth and innovation in that region.”

Published on 1 Aug 2019

Orderdate: 1 Aug 2019
Expiry: 30 Nov 2019