New institute giving boost to support for students

Otago Polytechnic/Te Pukenga co-branding logo that will be used at the polytechnic over the next...
Otago Polytechnic/Te Pukenga co-branding logo that will be used at the polytechnic over the next few months as it transitions to becoming Te Pukenga.
Te Pukenga and Otago Polytechnic are unifying in their approach to support students to succeed in what remains a challenging environment.

By January 1 next year, Te Pukenga will be responsible for about 250,000 students across New Zealand as institutes of technology, polytechnics and industry training organisations come together.

Ahead of this date, with an eye to helping lessen the impact of Covid-19, Te Pukenga has already been working across its network of subsidiaries to better support the wellbeing of its students.

Te Pukenga learner journey and experience deputy chief executive Tania Winslade said the organisation was dedicated to putting students and their whanau at the centre of everything it did, and that meant taking a holistic approach to wellbeing as part of vocational learning.

"Learners have told us that we need to do better to support them and we’re responding to that call to action.

"Our network is producing local action plans to identify and enable operational practices that ensure learners have what they need to be successful, especially in our current Covid-19 environment."

Ms Winslade said that between July last year and March this year, Te Pukenga distributed $5.64million to students experiencing hardship due to Covid-19.

Those funds provided support towards housing costs, food, utilities, transport and healthcare, as well as technology access so students could continue studying.

However, students had also told Te Pukenga it needed to do better in the area of mental health services.

She said 19% of students had accessed mental health support at some point.

As a result, the organisation partnered with the Ministry of Health to spend $3.24million on new and enhanced mental health and addiction services that could potentially be accessed by more than 160,000 students across all 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics.

The funding also provided greater opportunity for Maori and Pacific students to access services that were tailored and fit for purpose.

"It’s really important that akonga feel safe, welcome and comfortable when they’re accessing services.

"If we can provide those in ways that support their identity, that makes a real difference to them and their wellbeing," Ms Winslade said.



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