23 Jul 2018

Commissoner appointed to address Unitec's financial problems

8:20 pm on 23 July 2018

Unitec's governing council has been dissolved after an independent financial advisor found it was heading for deficits totalling nearly $100 million over four years.

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Photo: Supplied

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today he has appointed Murray Strong as commissioner to address the polytechnic's financial difficulties.

Earlier this month, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) consulted with Unitec staff and stakeholders, including iwi and Auckland Council, to consider replacing the council with a commissioner.

The consultation followed advice from an independent financial advisor that Unitec was heading for deficit of about $19m this year and $27m in 2019.

The institute lost $31m last year and $24m in 2016.

Chris Hipkins said he appointed the commissioner after receiving the final submission from Unitec's council, which supported the move.

He said Mr Strong's experience would be crucial to turning around Unitec's finances and putting it on a sustainable path.

"He's already playing a major role in the government's ITP 2020 roadmap project, which will ensure a sustainable and thriving network of institutions of technology and polytechnics around the country.

"This should give real confidence to students and staff about Unitec's future."

Mr Strong will initially be supported by an independent financial advisor, who is already in place.

An advisory group will be appointed by the minister once the commissioner has identified the skills and experience needed to support him in exercising his functions, duties and powers.

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