Learning to love the lifestyle

Andrea Moreno Madariaga and Luis Fernandez, of Chile, are looking forward to their studies at ...
Andrea Moreno Madariaga and Luis Fernandez, of Chile, are looking forward to their studies at Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus, in Cromwell. The two are part of a growing international contingent moving to Cromwell to study at the polytechnic. Photo: Pam Jones.
A growing interest in "lifestyle learning" is boosting  Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus, and student numbers and courses are rising.  Pam Jones takes a look at some of those combining study with lifestyle in Central Otago.

Continued growth at  Otago Polytechnic’s Central Campus   reflects the range of learning opportunities available to  students, those studying and working at the Cromwell facility say.

Student numbers continued to grow steadily each year and this year there were about 110 students on campus and another 40 distance learners, Central Campus marketing manager Melanie Kees said. There were also another  65 pupils involved with the Otago Secondary Tertiary College, previously known as the Trades Academy, where senior secondary school pupils studied at the polytechnic one day a week doing subjects such as cookery, automotive engineering, building and carpentry.

Another intake of students would begin later in the year, including the first  group of students from South Korea, following a free trade agreement signed in 2015  between New Zealand and that country.

The development was an expansion of the polytechnic’s  international student programme, which continued to thrive, Ms Kees said. About 27% of the Central Campus students were international students, including significant contingents from South America and India, Central Campus’ main international markets at present.

Ms Kees said cookery and horticulture students made up the bulk of the Cromwell polytechnic’s students and numbers in those courses continued to rise.

Other new courses at the three campus sites continued to be introduced, and all learning would be offered from the same site within 2 to 3 years, when a proposed new purpose-built "hub of learning" facility at Bannockburn Rd could  be completed. It will amalgamate the polytechnic’s existing sites at Bannockburn Rd, Molyneux Ave and the Otago Secondary Tertiary College in the Cromwell industrial area.

Ms Kees said it was possible student accommodation would be built at the new facility. Accommodation had not yet been a constraint on student numbers, but increasing strain on accommodation in Cromwell could become a problem, and the Otago Polytechnic had room for accommodation at its Bannockburn Rd site.

She said the Central Campus described its facility as offering "lifestyle learning", and was considering formally adopting a Study Central Otago theme, in line with other successful programmes, Study Dunedin and Study Queenstown. Study Central Otago would promote the region as one combining lifestyle and learning opportunities.

"It’s about getting the city folk out of the city and down here ...  you can come here from Auckland to study cookery and go snowboarding in your spare time."

The polytechnic was proud of its formal success rates, Ms Kees said. A total of 94%  of graduates went on to employment or further study, one of the highest rates in New Zealand.

Chilean students Andrea Moreno Madariaga and Luis Fernandez, who are both studying horticulture through Chilean Government and educational scholarships respectively, said their study in New Zealand would expose them to new knowledge and a new culture.

"It’s a new place in my life," Miss Moreno Madariaga said.

"It’s expanding my mind."

They hoped to take new technologies with them for future study and employment back home in Chile, which also had significant industries in cherries, apples and pears, as well as strawberries, oranges, pineapples and flowers.

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