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Mr Shadbolt was awarded an honorary fellowship by the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) at a graduation ceremony yesterday.
In the citation, Mr Shadbolt was recognised for being "an active communicator and promoter of the South" and for his commitment to attracting more students to Southland.
The institute’s zero fees scheme, introduced in 2000, was backed by Mr Shadbolt and had been "a leading factor in turning around Invercargill’s population decline".
"Mayor Tim is committed to multiculturalism in the region, demonstrated through his drive to attract international students to schools and tertiary study across the region and his promotion of Southland and New Zealand at international fairs resulting in large numbers of students coming to the region."
The fellowship is awarded to recognise the achievements of individuals who have contributed to the institute or wider community through leadership, scholarship, creativity, or humanitarian or public service.