Otago Polytechnic

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Proposed alternative model


The Minister of Education has put forward a proposal for the reform of vocational education. We applaud the proposal’s aims to:

  • better serve learners who are in work
  • implement a fit-for-purpose funding system
  • improve system effectiveness and efficiency through a degree of centralisation 

However, the proposal to merge 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) into one institution, will not serve New Zealand’s communities, employers and learners as well as it might.  

What are the problems to be solved?
  • Financial failure of individual institutions (not Otago Polytechnic)
  • Inconsistent quality across the sector (not Otago Polytechnic)
  • Inflexible cost structures and low economies of scale
  • A sector that is too slow in responding to industry and learner needs
  • Overlapping and duplicative provision 
How can the proposed model be improved?

The proposed head office-branch structure has high levels of centralised decision-making over teaching, operations, staffing and capital decision-making. The bureaucracy inherent in head office-branch models will compromise the flexibility, responsiveness and ability to innovate of the “branches”.  We believe Otago Polytechnic will not be able to serve our region as well as we do now, if the model does not change. 

Otago Polytechnic has refined the Minister’s model – to ensure appropriate autonomy for the “branches” 

View alternative model diagram

The System Head Office – Polytechnics New Zealand (working title) 

Polytechnics New Zealand will have decision rights in the following areas:

  • System strategy and planning
  • System quality standards and assurance
  • Monitoring system performance with powers of intervention to overcome underperformance
  • Liaison with key industry and professional bodies and Industry Skills Bodies
  • Advocacy, drive and support for system collaborations, including for international marketing
  • Approval of delivery portfolio and funding for System Regional Centres
  • Capital planning for the sector, with central contestable funds
  • Supporting and funding innovation and driving system-wide improvements to performance
  • Standardising back of house systems and services
  • Shared curriculum services
  • Shared service centre for learner support to complement on-campus support services
  • Whole of sector training and development for teachers and management/leadership
  • Coordinating and championing applied research 

The System Regional Centres – Individual Providers (Otago Polytechnic being one of these) 

Individual providers will be separate legal entities and will retain their current special character and identity. They will manage their own operations and budgets and will have decision rights, linked to their performance, over:

  • Providing fit-for-service learning and teaching facilities and equipment
  • Delivery of vocational training and education, including degree and postgraduate
  • Responding to regional training, development, skill and applied research needs
  • Responding to national training and education needs by agreement with the System H.O.
  • International student recruitment and partnerships, subject to system-level collaboration

Please note that this is still in draft form and can be improved with your feedback. 

Please send your comments and suggestions to intcomms@op.ac.nz


Find out more about our alternative structural model