Otago Polytechnic

< Back to Your Voice@OP

Earlier this year, we welcomed our new Chief Executive, Dr Megan Gibbons and she's keen to hear your thoughts. 

Thanks for your support

Hi there,

I'm a former and current student of many programmes at Otago Polytechnic.  I am on track to graduate hopefully by the end of this year in the Communication Design bachelors programme. I'm writing in response to the fact that i've been meaning to write a letter in thanks to all of your support.   I've had opportunities to get an ad in the star in April for the Dunedin Pride Inc's Pride Week events - and i've also had in conjunction with the Studio 3 class to have work in the ODT and a photo in the star.   As of this writing, i'm working with an NZ celebrity for my Negotiated Research Project which leads into our final project (Studio 4).   I'm not writing to "brag" but to let you and the rest of Polytech know that without the backing of the OP staff, and the affirmation from our lecturers - many of us in our classes would not be where we are today.   I may still have copies of the ODT and Star articles for Studio 3, but I definately have a copy of the star with the ad.  I say that as i'd like to celebrate the hard work that OP has done for it's students and share the copies of the articles/ad with you.  (Edit: Forgot we also made it onto the OP research website, and i don't have the link to it.) 

I also need to thank OP for supporting not just the "arts" (as i'm not an art student, i'm a design student - but art is design, and design is art to me.) - but supporting students in general.  I honour the fact that OP's former chaplain Mike Wright has passed away, but that his legacy lives through the wonderful things that Steve Downey is doing.  

I apologize also that i haven't stopped by to physically say thank you to your office as i've been busy in class, and a bit of homebody when not in class. (Although as we speak i'm organising my client interview for tomorrow morning at 10:15.  Hopefully one of those hub rooms is available at that time!) 

And to those who keep suggesting international exchange for me?  I would, but i still feel like i'm on exchange to this day.  I may have permanent residency, and I may be looking into my citizenship - but i feel like depsite being domestic, that any day now someone's going to force me to leave and go back home.  I do not want to, LOL - I love it at OP, and compared to the fact that i struggled so hard at Uni - this is amazing.  Also my passport has a really tiny weird loophole that i have to get sorted if i ever wanna leave NZ again (stupid returning residents visa).   Ah well, i'll treat Semi-Permanent as a chance to be on "EXCHANGE" (I've never been to Auckland outside of its airport, and i plan on taking photos and meeting new people.).   That would be the last huge thank you on my list. 

SemiPermanent is massively expensive for the BEST of people - OP shells out for its students to go.  Sure we book our flights, and pay for other costs - but the tickets alone albeit probably at an educational discount, are not cheap.  The amount of information i'll gather out of that compared to the usual 3 day jump at Armageddon Expo (not quite an event for design, but if it weren't for Armageddon, Martin Kean wouldn't have convinced me to try and come back to design) - is immense.  

I can't wait to graduate.

I almost don't want to leave, but if i do continuing on with higher education i need a gap year - lol.  My parents are going on a trip next year and i'm the household dog sitter.  

Thank you again, there's so much i could keep talking about but I've written way too much.

Sorry for the bad spelling errors i'm in a rush trying to find content for my interview tomorrow.

Thanks again.

Phil's response:

Thank you for this wonderful feedback - the highlight of my week. I am thrilled to hear about the positive  experience you are enjoying at OP, as this is exactly what we aspire to. 




March 2019

Dear Phil,
I am the student who is currently studying in Auckland Campus. I think the registry staff in Auckland campus of the construction major can improve their performance.

As I am pregant and my due date is coming soon, I asked for half year offer from school before Christmas. However, the registry officer didn’t assist me to get the offer properly.
1. I was told to get the 2019 offer and pay the tuition fee before 14 Dec 2018.
2. I requested to get a half year 2019 offer as I am pregnant and may suspend from school after my baby comes out. The staff told me that her manager was not in Auckland, she will forward my email to the manager.
3. The registry staff was not replying email, and I went to school. The staff told me would not be a problem to get my half year offer, just had to wait for my programme leader to decide what courses I can have for that half year.

However, until 24 Dec 2018, I still haven’t received any offer. And I again emailed to the staff after the Christmas break was finished on 3rd Jan 2019. The registry staff gave me a full year offer rather than the half year offer as discussed before.

4. I again talked to the staff I was requesting for the half year offer. Then, the staff asked me to provide a medical certificate then she will give me the half year offer as requested.

I can understand that I should provide the medical certificate as an evidence to proof that I am pregnant. However, I think the staff should inform me at early stage rather than after we communicated few times.

5. I renewed my student visa with the latest half year offer. And I found the the finished date mentioned in my offer was wrong.

About the student success staff,
1. I was absent for two classes as I had to meet my midwife and do ultrasound. I emailed to the lecturer to explain the reason one week before those two classes. And he informed the student success after. However, the student success was not replying. I was marked as absent for those two classes.

The Student Success called me and asked me the reason. I also explained on phone.

However, when I asked for the attendance record to renew my student visa. I realised that they still marked me as absent for those two classes rather than explain the absent. Due to my situation, I have provide the medical certificate for my health situation and explained to school for my absent once I noticed that I will be absent for the classes. The staff was only asking for the reason and informing me try to avoid those situation again. And they did not make any changes to my attendance record which I think was not fair to me. Even my current attendance record will not affect me to renew my student visa.

2. I emailed to both registry and student success about my medical certificate before I paid for the tuition fee. However, on the date I paid for the fee, within half an hour, I got a call from student success asking whether I have sent them a copy of my medical certificate. I sent the email on Friday afternoon. However, I paid the fee on the following mid day Monday. I am just wondering why the staff didn’t check the email before calling me and asked whether I have provided a copy of my medical certificate.

If they can focus more on their main job that would be  much help for our student rather than organising activities after classes.

Thank your for your patient to read this email. 

Phil's response

Thank you for taking out time to share your poor experience with us. At Otago Polytechnic, wellbeing and success of our learners is at the heart of all our activities and providing timely service to your requests is very much a  part of our commitment to you. I do note that you have now successfully gained your study visa well before the expiry of your current visa and are now attending your programme of study at our Auckland International Campus. Your attendance records have also been updated and are now reflecting the two sick days accurately.

We have investigated the matter thoroughly and we have since found some issues with the capability of our systems and  miscommunication between various teams. Your request could have definitely been managed better by our team, and we are going to take steps to ensure that this situation does not repeat itself. I sincerely apologise for all the inconvenience this has caused to you.

We have taken immediate steps to review our systems and processes.  We have also moved all our student services on Level 1 this week. This will allow improved on campus support for our learners.

I want to thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We are always looking for ways to improve learner experience, and your feedback is an invaluable part of that process.

Kind Regards,


January 2019

I am an international student in the Auckland campus. I graduated from PGD in December 2018. I had planned to apply for the new semester starting on January 7th to continue my study. But I'm disappointed now.

1. Some people in the Auckland campus are very irresponsible. Every staff member cannot give an effective suggestion to the beginning, including the IT department and the registration department. For example, if we ask for help when we have a problem, they don't help us solve the problem but pass the buck and fail to give us effective advice.

2. I am eager to apply for the course of January, but no one has given me any advice or help, just told me to wait.

3. Both my dean and my lecturer have sent me emails to acknowledge that I have completed all my courses. However, due to the problems in the technological system of Auckland in recent days, I have been unable to apply for new courses.

4. Now I am very disappointed with the efficiency of the Auckland campus. Everything cannot be done as promised. Almost everything has been delayed, so I have been unable to attend classes and register. 

Phil's response

An exceptional experience for students is at the heart of all our activities at Otago Polytechnic. We regret that your recent issues with delayed release of marks and enrolment processing resulted in a poor experience. I assure you that we do take these matters very seriously and have now fully investigated your complaint. 

It seems that the proper processes and timeline had been followed in your situation. The campus team well understood the urgency to apply for your subsequent visa and commence your studies in January. I am extremely pleased to know that you have successfully obtained your visa and are now attending the programme of your choice. 

Please feel free to reach out to our Student Support team should need any further assistance. 

All the best. 



September 2018

Dear Phil

There is a culture at L Block where students use homophobic slurs in their banter with one another and this appears to be tolerated by staff. Joking around is fine, but the use of LGBTQ+ terms as terms of abuse is not okay. I’m sure the LGBTQ+ students who study here at the Polytechnic would feel threatened and saddened to hear this language. This culture appears to be coming from the top down. One lecturer made a transphobic joke in front of class, and recently another lecturer made a homophobic joke. This is not okay and would not be tolerated anywhere else. This discriminatory attitude is deep-seated in building and construction. What will Otago Polytechnic do to help change this, rather than allowing these harmful attitudes to pass on to the next generation?

Please note that this question has been paraphrased on the request of the person who submitted it.

Phil's response

I am extremely disappointed to hear that this is occurring anywhere at Otago Polytechnic. Such behaviour deeply offends our values and is unacceptable. The consequences of homophobic behaviour (and any bullying, racist or sexist behaviour for that matter) will be disciplinary action with a high probability of exclusion from the programme for students found guilty and of dismissal for staff. For staff, condoning such behaviour either explicitly or by doing nothing is also very much a disciplinary matter.

So, zero tolerance in this institution.

Adobe software

August 2018

Dear Phil

I am currently doing the Certificate in Photography.

I am writing as I am extremely frustrated at the state of the Adobe software on the polytechnic computers. The software is constantly out of date and this means we are unable to work off site and then transfer the files to work in class, or, just as annoying any work we do in class we can’t use at home. 

We take photos in RAW format and when we come to load them into Photoshop or Lightroom we are faced with messages telling us that ‘these file are not supported please update your software’!. Any work we do in class to our photographs on the Polytechnic computers are also un useable when we save these to a USB and then try and use or work on them at home. 

I have been told by our tutor Frank that I.T. are looking into this. However my daughter did this same certificate last year and she tells me they had the same issues as we face now. 

This course is costing me close to $7000 dollars and I would expect that the Polytechnic would, at the very least, be able to provide me with up to date, working software to use, especially as Photography is heavily involved in this modern era with the use of digital software and editing. How can we be using out dated software when the industry will be moving with the times? 

I would like to make it clear that our tutor is frustrated almost daily by these issues and does a great job, and is a fantastic teacher. The course has been very good and taught extremely well from his perspective, but this continued lack of updated software I feel is not acceptable in this modern gigacity where software updates are a way of life. 

I am sorry to send an email like this but feel the need to. Many in my class feel as I do but as the mature student of the group, I will probably be the only one prepared to report this issue.

Phil's response

We were sorry to hear of the issues you have experienced.  

Our Information Systems and Support department was made aware of the problem yesterday when a case was received from a staff member at 3:59pm.   

Here is a snippet of the case below, including the actions carried out.  It is important that these issues are raised with us so our ISS department can help.  As you can see there was a solution to the issue inside 1.5hrs. 

Anyone can log a case for support.  Just go to https://service.op.ac.nz click login and log the case. 

Hopefully we will get confirmation from the staff member shortly that the fix we have pushed out has resolved the issue, and we can go ahead and make the changes to all computers. 


Case event #: CAS-22896-W2S4H6

Case Title: Photoshop / Lightroom in Cumberland St RM 208

Case Priority: P3

Location: Room 208 - Cumberland Street Campus

Case opened: 23/08/2018 03:59PM NZST

Case assigned to team: 23/08/2018 04:00PM NZST

Case assigned to Analyst: 23/08/2018 04:30PM NZST

First communication to customer: 23/08/2018 05:29PM NZST




I am teaching post production on the Certificate in Digital Photography Program based in Cumberland Street.

We have had several students unable to open .RAW files from their digital cameras using Lightroom, Photoshop or Adobe Bridge. The raw files are from cameras produced in the last year or so, and it appears that the Adobe Camera RAW plugin needs updating to make these files readable across the Adobe Suite. This is a key component of the unit and has stalled progress for these students.


 Email response at 05:29pm


I have updated camera raw on the projector computer, can you test everything is OK with the cameras? (Last update seriously broke stuff, to the point of apps not starting)

 I will push the update to all the machines once you are happy


Access to photocopier

August 2018

It would be great to have an OP photocopier in the close reserve section (there is a Uni of Otago one) but OP students can't access it. It would save heaps of time and bother to just photocopy pages from our readings rather than have to issue the book and return it when many other students need it at same time. 

Phil's response

Thanks for your suggestion. We are currently looking at what options are available and will provide a further response soon. 

Update 20 August 2018

Apologies for the delay in responding.  This has turned out to be a little more complex than it first appeared. 

Unfortunately we cannot add an extra copier to the Robertson Library Close Reserve Section at this time due to the University’s rules around use of their space. 

A suggested alternative is to use one of a number of Smart Phone or Tablet Apps that allows documents to be electronically scanned.  This way, copies will be free and able to be shared with fellow Students.  For example, Google Drive has a good option that allows documents to be scanned and uploaded to Google Drive as a PDF file.  These files can be easily accessed from  your Student computer later, if it is connected to your Google Drive. 

If any help is needed to set up a suitable App to copy material, please call by the IT Service Desk Team with your devices.