Merger for boards not 'a merger'

Witt is investigating merging its academic board with two other New Zealand polytechs.

The polytech has been in discussions with Palmerston North's Ucol since November.

Ucol's academic report, dated November 27, 2013, says terms of reference for an academic board review have been developed by Ucol and agreed to by Witt and the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne.

The report includes a suggestion the three polytechs merge their academic boards.

The board is a statutory committee of Witt and is the major academic policy authority, responsible for the institute's academic strategy.

Witt council chairwoman Mary Bourke said yesterday that a review was being investigated and discussions had taken place.

Last week she had said a merger was not on the cards and yesterday maintained this was the case.

She said the academic board acted as "basically an internal audit system" and the role was the same in each institution.

"We don't see that as a merger," she said. "It's a classic example of collaboration."

If the three polytechs were to combine their academic boards it would only be if it was positive for everyone involved, she said.

"It is certainly something we have suggested that could be looked at," she said. She said any merger of the boards would help the organisations and would not impact on staffing levels.

"I don't see this being a situation where people lose jobs, but staff members might have to slightly refocus their thinking."

Bourke maintained the polytech was not merging with any other institution, saying it was business as usual.

Witt council deputy chairman Malcolm Inglis was appointed chair of the Ucol board last month.

Bourke said his appointment did not impact on any discussions between the two polytechs. She did not know when the Witt council would hear back about the academic review.

In February new Witt chief executive Barbara George announced that the role of academic director at the polytech had been made redundant.

Dr Christine Fenton, who held the position, would no longer work at Witt, she said. The academic director had traditionally overseen curriculum development, academic professional development, and quality management.

At the time George said these portfolios would be "realigned" to current staff and managers.

Taranaki Daily News