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Seven of the country’s regional polytechnics will merge ahead of the mega-merger which will result in job losses and a loss of autonomy, National’s spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.

“All 16 polytechnics will become one entity called the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology as part of the radical tertiary education reforms. But in the lead up to this there will be a merger between seven entities.

“The seven polytechnics will undergo what’s known as a ‘structural merge’, in an attempt to hoover up some administrative savings.

“WelTec and Whitireira will become one entity with one chief executive and one name. This will mean job losses as the two entities merge together. Unitec and MIT will also merge with the same consequences.

“Those mergers have long been considered a suitable collaboration as they’re at least in the same regions, however the other planned merger is completely off the wall.

“Tai Poutini on the West Coast will merge with Northtec in Whangarei and the Western Institute of Technology in Taranaki.  

“This merger into a ‘semi-autonomous regional operating model’ has everyone asking why these polytechnics at opposite ends of the country are being thrown together.

“NorthTec and Wintec have previously explored a collaboration but the distance and different cultures eventually made it too difficult so it is hard to see how this is feasible when Whangarei, Greymouth and New Plymouth are so far apart.

“The Tertiary Education Commission identified the risk of the reforms not achieving the desired outcomes as ‘likely’ and Treasury and the Ministry of Education assessed the Regulatory Impact Assessment as ‘not fully convincing’.

“National’s approach is clear, rather than undermining the expertise of the regions, we should be building confidence and trust in them to deliver within their communities. If we are elected in 2020 we will return community assets back to communities.

“Chris Hipkins needs to provide immediate clarity around the possibility of these future mergers. Uncertainty is costing jobs, learner numbers and international student revenue.”

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