By: Melissa Nightingale

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is planning to appoint a commissioner to two struggling Wellington polytechnics – one of which would have had to close this month without financial help.

Hipkins has made the preliminary decision to appoint a commissioner to Whitireia and WelTec to address their financial woes.

“Following consultation and considering the 10 submissions, I have notified the combined council of Whitireia and WelTec of my plans to dissolve it and appoint a commissioner,” he said.

“Whitireia is in extreme financial difficulty. If the Government hadn’t provided financial support of $15 million, it would have to close its doors this month.

“While WelTec’s financial position is stronger than Whitireia’s, it is also operating in deficit, experiencing lower than expected enrolments and needs to borrow to meet its financial commitments to keep running this year.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that top quality vocational training continues to be available at Whitireia and WelTec and that students have confidence they can complete their courses and enrol for future courses.

“The council has up to 21 days to respond before the decision is finalised.”

The Government last month announced a $65 million bailout for struggling Unitec and Whitireia, and warned of the likely takeover of Whitireia and WelTec.

“Weltec’s financial position is also not strong, and this risk, combined with the close links between the two institutions, means the best option is likely to replace the combined council with a commissioner to oversee both institutions,” Hipkins said at the time.

“This situation shows the absolute need for the work now being done under the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Roadmap 2020 to secure a viable future for the institutes of technology and polytechnics sector across New Zealand,” he said.

“We need a strong polytechnic sector that delivers what New Zealand’s learners and employers need from it in a rapidly changing world, and at an affordable cost to taxpayers.”

Source: NZ Herald

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