Polytechnic's performance 'exceptional'

Mike Waddell
Mike Waddell
An ''exceptional'' performance by Otago Polytechnic, including a rapidly rising student roll, and three national teaching awards, means big benefits for Dunedin's economy and its tertiary education industry.

That comment came from polytechnic communications director Mike Waddell after the institution's performance was discussed at a Polytechnic Council meeting yesterday. The council heard that a student roll rise of about 10% was being predicted.

Enrolments, mainly of domestic students, but including international students, had already reached 4099 equivalent full-time students (Efts), about 610 Efts higher than at the equivalent stage last year, Mr Waddell said in an interview.

And the polytechnic was already within about 120 students of its overall roll target for this year.

International student enrolments had also reached 425 Efts, up 186 on the corresponding stage last year, he said.

Polytechnic Council chairwoman Kathy Grant said an increase in the number of well-educated, work-ready students graduating from the polytechnic was positive not only for individual students and their families, but also for the Dunedin economy.

At the council meeting, a council member, Emeritus Prof Tom Prebble, also referred to the polytechnic's success at national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards announced earlier this week.

Prof Prebble said he had been attending the teaching award events for some years and believed this was the first time teachers from one institution, in this case Otago Polytechnic, had achieved success in three different academic disciplines in one year.

Otago Polytechnic officials pointed out 57% of students at the polytechnic were from outside Dunedin.

Mr Waddell said rising student numbers delivered many benefits to the Dunedin economy, and including attracting more people from beyond Otago to study here, some later becoming long-term residents.

A long-term focus on maintaining and improving teaching quality and finding the best way of delivering courses was paying off in recent ''exceptional'' outcomes, including the teaching awards.

Tertiary education made students much more employable, including in key building-related trades needed for Christchurch and elsewhere, he said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz