Cautious optimism over tertiary reform

The polytechnic reform plan released by the Government yesterday might not have been exactly the one the Otago Chamber of Commerce was looking for - but the chamber's chief executive says it is a step in the right direction.

Dougal McGowan said while the details had to be worked through, the situation looked far better than it did six months ago, as high-performing polytechnics were potentially able to retain what made them unique.

More details about the plans and how they would work in a practical sense would hopefully come out soon, he said.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he was disappointed Otago would not retain its full autonomy, but cautiously optimistic Education Minister Chris Hipkins had listened to some of the polytechnic's and the community's ideas.

He would be discussing the reforms in detail with the polytechnic.

"It does appear that the minister has listened to aspects of our community's concerns, in that some local autonomy will remain, at least in the short term.

"In the longer term, it remains to be seen what level of control will be centralised, and that uncertainty is concerning. Today's announcement appears to include a range of options and some opportunities that need to be fully considered."

Any loss of local autonomy or jobs down the line remained a grave concern.

"With several huge developments about to start in Dunedin over the next few years, we need Otago Polytechnic to remain as flexible and responsive as possible, so it can help meet the local skills demand."


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