Progressing our strategic options
We’ve been making good progress on our plans for the future of tertiary education and vocational training on the West Coast, and have been most grateful to the strong community support we’ve had so far in developing our initial report. The Strategic Options Analysis report outlining potential future options for tertiary education on the West Coast was provided to Minister Goldsmith for his consideration earlier in July.
Our Crown Manager, Murray Strong and I met with the Minister in Wellington earlier last week. The Minister is very keen for us to progress the initial report into a formal Business Case. We know that maintaining the ‘status quo’ is not sustainable for us, so being asked to progress our exploration into the two options we outlined to the Minister is great news.
So what now? Murray and I will be focusing on developing two options in the Business Case:
- What opportunities joining with another tertiary education organisation may offer for West Coast learners
- What opportunities developing a new model tertiary organisation that has a strong community focus may offer for West Coast learners
The Minister has asked for our Business Case before the end of this year, so there is a strong sense of urgency for us to progress these two options in a way that will provide the fulsome information that can be used to make informed decisions.
We need to ensure our future focus strongly aligns to and supports the Government’s recent response to the Productivity Commission’s report New Models of Tertiary Education, particularly the four key areas outlined:
- Creating a more student‐centred system
- Meeting the needs of industry through relevant, responsive, and supportive teaching
- Improving performance across the system
- Enabling and encouraging innovative new models and providers.
Our future footprint will also need to be closely aligned to the Tai Poutini West Coast Regional Development Action plan 2017 which sets out a range of opportunities that will help support stronger employment and income growth into the future.
We will rely heavily on community support as we develop our Business Case. Quite frankly, I don’t believe we can provide the Minister with the best information about the future of tertiary education and vocational training on the West Coast unless we work closely with the very people it will affect.
No let‐up on our continuous improvement focus
Developing our Business Case is just one of the work‐streams the Polytechnic will be focusing on over the next few months. We are continuing to ensure we’re as lean and streamlined as we possibly can be. We’re committed to ongoing improvement and look to innovate where we can to drive better outcomes for our learners. I like to call this business as usual!
Our staff have been doing a great job and I appreciate their engagement and input into the process so far. I’m pleased to say they have achieved business improvement while finding cost savings. As is always the case, all programmes are continually being assessed for relevance and, where student numbers or industry demand is not sufficient, some tough decisions will need to be made about their future.
We received further good news on the funding front with the TEC recently confirming funding for the second half of the year, bringing in a total of $15.4m funding for the whole of 2017 (which is based on 84% of 2016 funding). Previously, in recognition of our ongoing future planning process, TEC had confirmed funding for the first half of 2017 only.
We were able to share some of our good efforts with the Crown earlier this month, when Ministers Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston visited the Polytechnic as part of a regional delegation to launch the West Coast Economic Development Action Plan. We showed them around our campus and highlighted some of the new digital and technology focused work we have been doing.
In addition to these workstreams, it is likely that the closure of Frontline will leave a gap on the Coast and create new demand for alternative courses. As a result, the Polytechnic may be in a position to address that demand with new alternative education programmes at high school level. It’s important that, as a community, we ensure our young people have all the skills and knowledge they need to forge a prosperous future in their chosen jobs. TPP will continue to work with the local community and respond to new and changing demand for training – there are plenty of opportunities here on the Coast and we can make the most of those by working together.
As always, I appreciate your thoughts and feedback as we work through our future planning process, with a view to ensuring the continued delivery of tertiary education on the West Coast. I’ll keep you posted as work progresses and please feel free to contact me any time.
Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Chief Executive