12 Jan 2017

Jobs on the line at Taranaki polytech

9:51 am on 12 January 2017

The future of about 20 jobs is up in the air as Taranaki's largest tertiary education provider heads into the new academic year.

Western Institute of Technology

Facing a drop in enrollments from international students in particular, Taranaki's Western Institute of Technology is reviewing staffing numbers. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The Western Institute of Technology (WITT) wants to align staffing levels to the number of enrolments expected in 2017.

Programme managers and coordinators, and tutor positions will all be affected.

And qualifications in photography, computing, fitness training and marae catering are slated for closure.

The institute's chief executive Barbara George said the review was part of the normal ebb and flow of staffing and four people had so far accepted voluntary redundancy.

"At the moment it's too soon to tell how many more staff might be affected and what that might actually mean. This is why we have a consultation process."

Ms George said the proposal did not necessarily mean jobs would be lost.

"Positions can be affected in very small ways which can make that very large number [look less dramatic]. They could be affected because we look at a different mode of delivery, because we look at different timetabling, because we look at different strands and bringing new programme development on.

"In our sector there's been a lot of demand for new programme development and all of those things come under the definition affected."

Barbara George

WITT chief executive Barbara George. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The institutes review has also signalled that it expects far fewer international student enrolments in 2017 and beyond.

"We've budgeted quite conservatively for international enrolments but it's fair to say international enrolments have been soft. It's not unlike what the rest of the sector is seeing but we start from quite a low base," Ms George said.

In 2016 WITT had about 190 international students and it is budgeting for 30 fewer this year.

Chef training at WITT was popular with Indian students in particular and the institute has recently spent $1.1 million on revamping its kitchens to meet that demand.

Ms George said growing domestic demand would compensate for the decline in international catering students.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Lawrence O'Halloran said it had been in proactive discussions with the institute.

Mr O'Halloran said he was not prepared to comment further on issues at WITT.

The final number of job losses at WITT will be known later this month.

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