Proposal would close Otago's Auckland campus: Ker

Phil Ker.
Phil Ker.
Otago Polytechnic's Auckland campus would disappear if a proposal in a draft Cabinet paper obtained by the National Party went ahead, the polytechnic's chief executive says.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins would not say yesterday which way the Government might go on tertiary sector reforms, after a draft Cabinet paper leaked to the National Party threw the polytechnic sector into confusion last week.

A summary of the paper, which Mr Hipkins said appeared to be a draft, was released by Opposition tertiary education spokesman Shane Reti.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said damage was already being felt when it came to Otago Polytechnic's international recruitment. Staff now also felt highly unsettled in their jobs.

He understood Otago Polytechnic's Auckland International Campus would be closed. Dr Reti mentioned the abolition of an "out of region" provision for polytechnics.

There was a roll of 1116 international students studying on the campus, according to the polytechnic's 2018 annual report.

That compared with 284 in Dunedin, and 35 in Central Otago.

Dr Reti said, under the proposal in the paper, institutes of technology and polytechnics would "have their cash and community legacy assets ring-fenced at head office".

"All other assets, including buildings and land, will be taken away and consolidated."

Mr Hipkins had nothing to add yesterday when asked if more information on the Government's direction would become available, and Mr Ker said the continued lack of clarity was "disappointing".

"It would seem to me to be a reasonable thing to confirm or deny," he said.

"The damage is real, not imagined."

It was too early to quantify the loss to Otago so far in terms of numbers of students, Mr Ker said.

Polytechnic deputy chief executive Philip Cullen said there were 42 equivalent full-time teaching staff employed on the Auckland campus.

He declined to say how much revenue the campus generated for the polytechnic every year.

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