Polytech boosts city by $131m

The importance of tertiary education to Dunedin's economy has been highlighted again in a report showing Otago Polytechnic boosted the city's economy by $131 million last year.

The economic impact report, tabled at yesterday's Otago Polytechnic council meeting, showed the institution's contribution to Dunedin's economy had grown 23% in the five years since 2008 and, taking into account ''downstream expenditure'', contributed 2807 jobs to the region.

This comes after a report released last year showed University of Otago boosted the city's economy by $780.8 million in 2012 and supported almost 17,000 jobs in Dunedin, or about 34% of the city's workforce.

Polytechnic chief operating officer Philip Cullen said the report reinforced how critical the ''whole tertiary sector'' was to Dunedin.

The ''global expenditure'' from the polytechnic's Dunedin campus, which included money that ''leaked'' out of the area, had grown 17% from $200 million in 2008 to $235 million last year, he said.

The polytechnic's economic impact would continue to grow, with another ''5%-6% jump'' expected this year.

Another point to note was that 57% of students at the polytechnic were from outside Dunedin.

''It's tracking really very similar to [Otago University] now.''

Director of communications Mike Waddell said it was impressive the polytechnic's economic impact was growing in a tertiary environment where student numbers were ''capped'' by the Government.

The report also highlighted how successful opening a campus in Auckland had been, with total expenditure from staff and students at that campus totalling $12.6 million.

''That's taken us by surprise, to be frank, which is absolutely excellent, and at this stage it appears that it's not going to slow down.''

It showed opening up a campus aimed at international students in Auckland was the ''right move''.

''People [from overseas] know about New Zealand and they know about Auckland ... and they may not well know about Dunedin.''

The polytechnic was working with other parties to grow Dunedin's economy, which included being part of ''Project Shanghai'' and being the lead organisation in the development of an export education strategy.

The report showed the polytechnic's Cromwell campus boosted the area's economy by $6.2 million last year.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz


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