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A sustainable future for ITPs – mapping the path

A sustainable future for ITPs – mapping the path

Last updated 4 December 2017
Last updated 12/04/2017

Many Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) face financial challenges. But those challenges also present an opportunity, according to Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Chief Executive Tim Fowler.

ITP domestic student numbers have declined by nearly a third in the last decade, driven by demographic, economic and other changes.  As a result, some ITPs face immediate and pressing challenges to their financial viability and sustainability. For others the challenges are less imminent, but getting closer.

Tim Fowler says that while these financial issues are the sector’s burning platform, the opportunity is to take a long term view of where the sector needs to go.

“The need for change is as much about the nature and quality of delivery as it is about ITP finances – the two are intertwined. This is not about solving a short-term financial problem – it’s about finding a sustainable growth path for ITPs to help them deliver vocational training and education that addresses students’ and employers’ needs in a rapidly changing world.”

 Many ITPs were already thinking and talking about how they might innovate to meet the challenges, he says. 

“To support those conversations, and provide leadership for the sector’s change process, TEC will be bringing together ITPs and government agencies to collectively map a path to sustainability.”

The new Government has indicated that it wants the tertiary sector to be more flexible and responsive, to better meet New Zealand’s changing labour market. Tim Fowler says that while thinking about the project was underway well before the election, the project fitted well with this goal.

Between now and early 2018, the ‘ITP Roadmap 2030’ project will establish an information base and problem definition that is widely understood and shared between government and the sector. 

“Moving into 2018, we will start engaging collaboratively with ITPs, to explore and test different options for change.”

Case studies from both New Zealand and Australia will help inform the project work.

“New Zealand ITPs have already undergone a lot of structural change over the last two decades, merging or forming partnerships to improve their quality and efficiency. New Zealand had 25 ITPs in 1990, and now has 16. Change is normal, and when done well, and with right motivation and focus, can make things better for everyone.

 “We need to be clear about the unique value ITPs offer New Zealand, and how they can adapt to a changing environment to deliver that value. By working together we can build a sustainable future for the sector while also meeting the needs of current and future learners,” said Tim Fowler.