Not all polytechnics are struggling - Otago CEO

  • 03/03/2018
2018 enrolments are strong according to Otago Polytechnic's chief executive.
2018 enrolments are strong according to Otago Polytechnic's chief executive. Photo credit: Otago Polytechnic

One of New Zealand's polytechnic education institutes has hit back at claims the entire sector is in crisis.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker says far from being in crisis, his institute is performing "exceptionally well on all indicators".

"Our 2018 enrolments are strong. We are 14 per cent ahead in applications than the same time last year," he said.

He said his polytechnic led the institutes of technology and polytechnics sector in course and qualification completions and had posted nine consecutive years of financial surpluses.

His comments came after the government revealed last week it was giving the West Coast's struggling Tai Poutini Polytechnic a $33-million bailout.

However, Education Minister Chris Hipkins also said a business case for Tai Poutini's recovery would be delayed, while wider changes were made in the education sector.

He said Tai Poutini was one of 16 polytechnics suffering from alarming drops in student numbers, and the sector's financial losses were unsustainable.

"It is critical we address these challenges across the whole network, rather than just one organisation at a time," Mr Hipkins said.

Mr Ker took umbrage at Mr Hipkins wording, saying there had "been a lack of acknowledgement that some parts of our sector ... have been performing extremely well", he said.

"It is highly regrettable if (the) government is being advised that all polytechnics are in the same boat as this is not true."

However, Mr Ker welcomed Mr Hipkins' announcement he would scrap the previous National-government's process of competitive funding for some areas of tertiary education funding.

Mr Hipkins said the model forced tertiary education providers to bid against each other.

"From 2019, the up to $135m of funding will return to being on the basis of student enrolments," he said last Thursday.

"It removes uncertainty and will enable providers to properly plan."