Witt is cleared of $10m of debt

In five years of sticking on target Witt has cleared more than $10 million of debt.

In 2009, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) restructured Witt's Crown debt of $17.618m to a suspensory loan of $12.422 million and Crown loan of $5.196m.

If the institute met key performance indicators relating to educational performance, organisation and financial sustainability the TEC would wipe portions of the suspensory loan each year.

At a council meeting yesterday it was announced that the last $2.4m was cleared.

Witt director of marketing Danny Hall said the achievement was huge for the council.

He said Witt's financial position would allow the institute to move forward on its new strategic direction and reinvest in staff and infrastructure.

"We were tied into an annual agreement and had to meet a whole lot of conditions.

"Now with that completed we can be much more strategic and look further ahead."

Freed of the debt burden, Witt is able to explore new projects, one of which is to add surfing to the syllabus.

Surf and stand-up paddle board instructing and surf competition judging are the three new courses to be added to the tertiary institute's syllabus next year.

All three qualifications, which will be taught over 1 or 2-day courses, are recognised by the International Surfing Association.

Hall said the addition of the new surf courses was a way Witt could help bolster the sport in Taranaki.

"Having the surf beaches we do have and the interest in surfing, we're looking at how we can support the community."

He said there was a good level of interest shown in the courses already.

"We're hoping the surf carnival will generate interest in learning judging and instructing," Hall said.

Surfing Taranaki boss Craig Williamson said it was important the course offered more than surfing.

Williamson said although surfing could open doors, it was important the course offered skills that set young people up for a career.

"There's not a lot of jobs in the industry.

But a course based on surfing could see students gaining experience in all sorts of areas, he said.

"For example, students could get experience in managing and organising events like the one we're organising now."

Sponsorship and event organisation, retail, branding and design of equipment were some skills a surf-based course could branch into, he said.

"Our advice has been to develop something more general using surfing as the hook.

"It would be great to create more opportunities for young people."

Taranaki Daily News