8 Oct 2018

Numbers at polytech still declining - MIT head

7:35 pm on 8 October 2018

The head of the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) says the funding model for polytechs needs to allow for pastoral care for at risk students, not just focus on the number of students.

Generic Library / Students

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A plan has been drawn up by the Teritary Education Commission for Education Minister Chris Hipkins to address serious concerns about the polytech sector after cabinet papers showed that seven polytechs are at a high financial risk, and 10 of the 16 polytechs expect to have a deficits this year.

Gus Gilmore, chief executive of MIT, told Nine to Noon that in 2017 student numbers at MIT dropped by 700, and it had a deficit of $7 million.

"2017 was a very bad year in terms of demand... the perfect storm occurred, but this year there has been some improvement but the numbers are still declining. What we are seeing in the greater Auckland [area] is full employment and employers looking to engage their employers full-time."

Mr Gilmore said he expected to half that deficit, and student numbers had improved, but they still expect to lose another three to four hundred students.

He said the real issue which needs to be addressed is core funding.

Mr Gilmore said a good system delivers to diverse learners, embeds education in regional communities, and needs to have a flexible funding system, which recognises that there are particular needs in particular communities.

"If you look at where we are, we are in Ōtara, we're one of the lowest decile regions in the country. Not all students, unfortunately, have the same benefits and privileges so we put a significant amount of wrap around and support, pastoral care, for those students. That costs a substantial amount."

He said the current model was a per student system, and this isn't flexible enough.

Mr Gilmore said in his submission for the paper that has gone to the minister that there needs to be a recognition that there should be a core amount of funding to keep the facilities running that isn't based on the volume of students, and on top of that allow for at-risk students.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs