Six weeks to sort Canterbury polytechnic merger

Posted By TEU on Nov 12, 2015 |

The tertiary education minister’s decision this week to merge Aoraki and CPIT looks like a rushed takeover, says TEU national president Sandra Grey.

The minister, Steven Joyce, announced this week that Aoraki Polytechnic will merge with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT).

Joyce says the new organisation will launch at the start of 2016 and initially trade under the name CPIT Aoraki, but will have a new name in the new year.

Jenn Bestwick, the current chair of CPIT, will become the chair of the new organisation.

At the moment, with seven weeks before it launches, the new organisation does not know how much funding it will receive. The Tertiary Education Commission will work with CPIT and Aoraki to finalise funding for the new organisation for 2016. This is likely to be confirmed in December.

CPIT chief executive Kay Giles told Fairfax “at this stage the CPIT jobs remain“. For any duplicates in roles, the Aoraki staff would be given the option to take redundancy or a different role. She understood her role as chief executive would stay.

National student president Rory McCourt says the merger is just shuffling deckchairs in a chronically underfunded sector.

“In the last seven years, our regional polytechnics have had very tough choices to make in the face of falling funding. Some have chosen to shift their focus to lucrative international students in Auckland, while others have stayed committed to their local rohe. Aoraki did the right thing, – it valued regional provision, and its reward has been disestablishment.”

TEU’s Aoraki branch president Carol Soal, agrees, saying the minister has left the two polytechnics only weeks to manage a successful merger to take place on 1 January next year.

“Staff and students across Canterbury, South Canterbury and North Otago are already planning their lives for next year.  They need security that the new, merged polytechnic cares about them and will protect their education opportunities,” says Soal.

“This merger has to be about education, not about cost cutting. Otherwise it is not going to work.”

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