Polytechnic graduation biggest yet

A record 500 Otago Polytechnic students will graduate in person in today's ceremony at the Regent Theatre.

About 460 students graduated at the equivalent ceremony last year.

A further 410 graduands will graduate in absentia today.

The city's economy is also being boosted this month by six University of Otago graduation ceremonies, when about 2480 students will graduate, also record or near-record numbers.

About 2460 students, not counting about 50 in Invercargill, graduated from the university in a series of ceremonies last December.

A record 1055 people graduated from the university at two ceremonies on Saturday, December 17, last year, the largest number to graduate in one day in December in the university's history.

The equivalent busiest university graduation day this month is next Saturday, when about 940 people will graduate in person and in absentia at 1pm and 4pm ceremonies.

About 710 University of Otago students will graduate at two ceremonies, at 1pm and 4pm, at the Regent Theatre tomorrow. Otago Polytechnic communications director Mike Waddell said the record polytechnic graduation reflected a continuing high level of enrolments at the polytechnic and further roll growth.

The city's business community benefited significantly from such ceremonies, with friends and family members dining and using other accommodation and hospitality services.

But there were many wider benefits, some of them also economic, for Dunedin and Otago arising from the development of a more skilled workforce in the city, including increased entrepreneurial activity and a better overall quality of life.

Having a polytechnic and a university that were both high quality and successful institutions in the city was ''vital for a vibrant Dunedin'', he said.

The polytechnic is streaming images of the graduation live on its internet site - www.op.ac.nz - for the first time, and also into the nearby Ra Bar in the Octagon, to ensure some guests who could not attend the large ceremony could still be involved in ''this special occasion'', officials said.

The university's manager, student administration, David Cross, said a new system at Otago was making the process of applying to attend university graduation ceremonies ''easier for the student'', replacing the previous slow, paper-based system with rapid confirmation via the internet.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz