One course cut at Witt, others under threat due to low enrolment

Taranaki's primary tertiary education provider will be cutting photography from its curriculum, and  three other courses ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Taranaki's primary tertiary education provider will be cutting photography from its curriculum, and three other courses are under threat.

Staffing levels and courses are under threat at Taranaki's largest tertiary education provider as it plans for the coming year.

The Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki has been engaging with staff while planning for 2017 to "ensure the right fit of courses for students," chief executive Barbara George said.

Already the certificate in photography has been canned and marae catering, fitness training and computing are under threat because of low enrolments. 

Witt chief executive Barbara George gave evidence at the Employment Relations Authority hearing involving a former ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Witt chief executive Barbara George gave evidence at the Employment Relations Authority hearing involving a former employee of the institute.

"The three have not attracted significant enrolments and at this stage are more likely to be offered later in the year when we hope to attract sufficient numbers," George said.

READ MORE:
Testing times for Witt staff
Claims former employee 'targeted' rejected by polytech boss
Small surplus posted for Taranaki's Witt polytech
Taranaki students volunteer for drug test – and fail

George said courses needed about 20 students to be viable but only a "handful of applications" had been received for the three so far. 

Although the certificate in photography had been cut the topic would be taught under a general creative arts course, she said. 

George also noted that while some courses were under review the institute had added new courses including mechanical engineering and a bachelor of applied management in recent years.

"We expect to have any changes in place by the first day of the new semester if not earlier," she said. 

While Witt's planning would have an affect on staffing levels, with four staff taking voluntary redundancy, George disputed claims made by Radio New Zealand the future of about 20 jobs were up in the air. 

Ad Feedback

"It is my expectation that while some staff have elected to take redundancy, beyond that there may be some impact on staffing levels at Witt, but we are not expecting this to be even close to 20," she said.

"Our review also examines the successes or otherwise of courses. So where we feel a course could have produced better results, our review will involve staff, but that does not mean that their jobs are on the line.

"Witt manages its staffing levels through resignations, retirements, fixed-term and casual contracts and voluntary redundancies. 

"Non-voluntary redundancies are a last resort if we cannot redeploy a member of the team."

George said it would be inappropriate for her to identify the voluntarily redundant staff or their roles. 

The institute's international student numbers were also reviewed as part of planning, George said.

Last year Witt boasted 190 international students but was expecting roughly 30 fewer international enrolments this year, she said.

"Based on national trends we have planned conservatively and expect to attract about 160 students, where we had about 190 last year," George said. 

"Staff from Witt visited India and China late last year and we are confident of seeing positive results in the long term from that."

While international student enrolments were slightly down domestic student numbers are capped by the Tertiary Education Commission and Witt cannot simply increase domestic enrolments to compensate, George said. 

"But, we are pleased to say that domestic enrolments are tracking significantly higher than they have at any other year at this time," she said. 

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback