Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN GIBB [email protected]

A RECORD­SET­TING surge of about 2850 Dunedin ter­tiary stu­dents will grad­u­ate this month, gen­er­at­ing ‘‘fan­tas­tic’’ ben­e­fits by spark­ing higher de­mand for ho­tel beds and restau­rants, and boost­ing the econ­omy.

The pre­vi­ous record for the largest num­ber of peo­ple grad­u­at­ing in per­son from the Univer­sity of Otago and Otago Polytech­nic in De­cem­ber was more than 2600, in 2016.

More than 2440 Dunedin ter­tiary stu­dents grad­u­ated in per­son from the two in­sti­tu­tions in De­cem­ber last year.

Over­all, Otago Univer­sity grad­u­a­tion num­bers rose about 90 from last year, from 2532 to 2625, in­clud­ing a rise of about 50 in peo­ple grad­u­at­ing in per­son.

But most of the huge rise in over­all De­cem­ber num­bers has been gen­er­ated by the polytech­nic, where over­all grad­u­a­tion num­bers are ex­pected to rise mas­sively from last year’s De­cem­ber record of 1463 to about 2200.

This in­cludes about 800 peo­ple grad­u­at­ing in per­son, up heav­ily from 644 last year.

The first two of eight Dunedin ter­tiary grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies this month will be held by the Univer­sity of Otago at the Dunedin Town Hall to­day at 1pm and 4pm.

Otago Polytech­nic ex­ter­nal re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Mike Wad­dell said the big rise in polytech­nic grad­u­a­tion num­bers was ‘‘a very pos­i­tive out­come for the polytech­nic and the city’’.

The polytech­nic was pro­vid­ing ‘‘tremen­dous ben­e­fits’’ for the city, in­clud­ing by pro­vid­ing skilled staff who could con­trib­ute strongly to city busi­nesses and to the over­all econ­omy.

The polytech­nic was a suc­cess­ful ‘‘in­no­va­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion’’, which was help­ing to counter some marked short­ages in par­tic­u­lar skills in the city, and through­out the coun­try, Mr Wad­dell said.

‘‘I think it’s fan­tas­tic for the city,’’ Otago Penin­sula Trust mar­ket­ing man­ager Sophie Barker said of the grad­u­a­tions.

She be­lieved that the Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of fees­free firstyear ter­tiary stud­ies was con­tribut­ing to the over­all ter­tiary growth.

Many grad­u­ates also liked to show their out­of­town par­ents around Dunedin attractions, in­clud­ing the Royal Al­ba­tross Cen­tre, this month, she said.

Otago Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Dou­gal McGowan said the high grad­u­a­tion num­bers re­flected ‘‘the strength’’ of the city’s two main ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions and their ‘‘tremen­dous value to the city’’.

A key chal­lenge for Dunedin in the fu­ture was to at­tract as many grad­u­ates as pos­si­ble to con­tinue to live in the city, or to re­turn in the fu­ture, to help meet some of the city’s key work­force chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the need for more con­struc­tion work­ers, he said.

Otago Univer­sity will hold two more grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies next Wed­nes­day and next Satur­day, and next Fri­day the polytech­nic will for the third time hold two cer­e­monies.

En­ter­prise Dunedin chief ex­ec­u­tive John Christie said the ris­ing grad­u­a­tion num­bers re­flected ‘‘just how strong our ter­tiary sec­tor is’’, and the high qual­ity and suc­cess of both the univer­sity and the polytech­nic.

The out­come also re­flected ‘‘in­creas­ing de­mand for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tions’’.

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