Polytech forecasts 6% student growth

Phil Ker.
Phil Ker.
The future looks bright for Otago Polytechnic, as student numbers are forecast to grow by 6% next year - its third year of growth in a row.

The polytechnic's budget for next year, which was tabled at a closed council meeting last week, said 4220 equivalent full-time students (Efts) were expected to enrol next year.

The main increases were in trades and engineering, design and hospitality, via the Food Design Institute, at both its Auckland International Campus and Central Otago and through its subsidiary Capable NZ.

Chief executive Phil Ker said he was ''very happy'' student numbers were continuing to increase.

''I like to think it's a combination of two things. One is the continuing good reputation of Dunedin as a plus to study, but secondly, it is the reputation we have built for the quality of our programmes.''

It also offered ''innovative'' programmes, which meant it had carved out a ''little bit of a niche'' attracting more students.

''This hasn't come by accident. We have worked hard to build our reputation. I guess it's paying off and long may it continue to do so.''

Its new Auckland International Campus was also performing ''remarkably well'' and was forecast to return a surplus this year, which was its first full year of operation. This was ''pretty good for any new business''.

He was confident it would be able to meet its budget for student numbers.

''We have clearly got to wait until the students turn up, but applications are very strong and well ahead of last year.''

The polytechnic was forecasting an operating surplus of $3.45 million next year, with a turnover of $68.3 million.

It had set aside $12.7 million for capital expenditure, including $7.5 million for its ''Learning Link'' project, which involved building an atrium linking the polytechnic's F and H blocks and transforming the ground floor of both buildings into a ''student hub''.

The final stage of the project was expected to be completed in 2015.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz