Polytech­nic $50m plan to go ahead

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - ELENA MCPHEE

OTAGO Polytech­nic will push ahead with a planned $50 mil­lion redevelopment in­volv­ing three sep­a­rate projects, af­ter be­ing granted a fund­ing in­crease by the Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (TEC).

A new trades and en­gi­neer­ing block in Forth St, a new, per­ma­nent Maori Cen­tre and an ad­di­tion to the arts school are part of the polytech­nic’s ‘‘master plan’’, the three de­vel­op­ments ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2021.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Phil Ker said that, with the fund­ing con­firmed, the polytech­nic’s sur­plus was on tar­get and it had the ‘‘green light’’ to move into the de­tailed plan­ning stage.

‘‘There’s still some fi­nal de­ci­sions to be made about which projects start when,’’ he said.

‘‘One, prob­a­bly two of the projects will start next year.’’

It was pos­si­ble the trades and en­gi­neer­ing build­ing might be ‘‘first equal’’ with some­thing else.

He was ‘‘pretty thrilled’’ the ex­tra $2.4 mil­lion fund­ing had been con­firmed, in line with ex­pected stu­dent en­rol­ments. The polytech­nic is pre­dicted to end this year with up to 109% of its ex­pected roll.

This year, the polytech­nic re­ceived about $35 mil­lion in fund­ing from the TEC.

Mr Ker said the cost of each build­ing was com­mer­cially sen­si­tive. The new trades and en­gi­neer­ing build­ing would be be­side the au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing base in Forth St, cre­at­ing a trades precinct.

It would be more modern than the ex­ist­ing premises and have an ex­panded ca­pac­ity, he said.

A per­ma­nent Maori Cen­tre build­ing would be es­tab­lished on the ex­ist­ing site. The cen­tre in St David St was based in pre­fab build­ings, Mr Ker said. The arts ex­ten­sion would be a ‘‘ma­jor’’ ad­di­tion to the new­est part of the School of Art in An­zac Ave.

‘‘It’ll be a space for art and ar­chi­tec­ture,’’ he said.

The new Dunedin Hos­pi­tal build was ex­pected to need more than 800 work­ers and the polytech­nic was also work­ing on ‘‘fur­ther ini­tia­tives to ex­pand our trades train­ing’’ but was un­able to re­lease de­tails yet.

In 2020, the polytech­nic is ex­pect­ing an ad­di­tional $400,000 in fund­ing from the TEC.

‘‘This sets a new level of fund­ing for us.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously, if we didn’t get the en­rol­ments and it looked like that was go­ing to be long term, we would have to agree to take less fund­ing.’’

Mr Ker said the polytech­nic had ex­pe­ri­enced a ‘‘good­news fort­night’’, af­ter the Gov­ern­ment backed down on pro­posed in­ter­na­tional stu­dent visa changes, and EduBits ‘‘mi­cro­cre­den­tial’’ cour­ses of­fered by the polytech­nic were of­fi­cially recog­nised by the New Zealand Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Author­ity af­ter a year­long trial.

A Gov­ern­ment pro­posal to make in­ter­na­tional stu­dents study for at least two years be­fore be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble for a work visa has been scrapped.

It was an­nounced last week that stu­dents who gain higher qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as a bach­ elor’s de­gree or post­grad­u­ate de­gree will be able to get a three­year work visa, with­out any em­ployer­as­sisted com­po­nent.

Stu­dents who gain lower qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as cer­tifi­cates or di­plo­mas will be able to get a one­year post­study visa, with an ad­di­tional year for grad­u­ate di­ploma hold­ers work­ing to­wards reg­is­tra­tion in a trade or pro­fes­sional body.

Stu­dents who re­ceive those qual­i­fi­ca­tions out­side Auck­land can get a two­year post­study visa if their stud­ies are com­pleted by the end of De­cem­ber 2021.

PHOTO: PETER MCIN­TOSH

Green light . . . Otago Polytech­nic chief ex­ec­u­tive at the site where a new trades and en­gi­neer­ing build­ing will be es­tab­lished by 2021.

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