Five South Island institutions to host new ICT grad school together

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce has announced the hosts of the new Christchurch and ...
Ross Giblin

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce has announced the hosts of the new Christchurch and Auckland ICT graduate schools.

Three new graduate computer schools will produce 350 skilled workers each year to an ICT industry in which supply is failing to keep up with demand.

To a room of industry representatives at the EPIC hub in Christchurch on Thursday, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced a new collaboration of tertiary institutions would run the Christchurch school, while two universities would host the school in Auckland.

The Government will invest $28.6m over the next four years in three information and communications technology (ICT) graduate schools to address significant high-level skills shortages in the rapidly growing industry.

The southern school will be hosted by the South Island Tertiary Alliance, which consists of the University of Canterbury, Christchurch Polytechnic and Institute of Technology (CPIT), Lincoln University, Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago.

It will eventually have a Christchurch campus located in the central city innovation precinct, possibly in the new Wynyard building, and a satellite site in Dunedin.

The South Island school, to open in 2016, will focus on key ICT areas relevant to the regional economies, including agri-tech, health technology and communications products and services.

The Auckland school will be hosted by the University of Auckland and University of Waikato, with satellite locations in Hamilton and Tauranga. It will focus on developing industry focused post-graduate ICT students with strong communication, critical thinking, business, and enterprise skills.

Details about the Wellington school will not be finalised until the end of the year.

Once fully established, the schools are expected to train more than 350 students each year.

"The global ICT industry is expected to grow by US$1.3 trillion between 2013 and 2020. For New Zealand businesses to make the most of this opportunity, they need hi-tech professionals working in their businesses," Joyce said.

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"The biggest challenge with the growth rate is getting enough people."

Institutions churned out 1900 graduates last year but more were needed.

The plan was to allow growth as the industry required, he said.

"This industry is going to be a serious export industry for New Zealand. I can see it being in our top five."

South Island Tertiary Alliance chairman Murray Strong believed it was the first time such a large number of tertiary institutions had collaborated on one programme.

Its school would be called the South Island Graduate Network and Lab (Signal). 

The country was only "scratching the surface" of demand and Strong believed they needed to triple graduate numbers.

The alliance had already piloted programmes this year and its first full cohort of students would begin in January 2016.

CPIT chief executive Kay Giles said the collaboration was "good for business, good for the institutions, and a real opportunity for individuals".

University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Rod Carr said the institutions wanted to be part of a collaboration, for something each was unlikely to achieve alone.

"We don't need to cannibalise each other's courses," he said.

 - Stuff

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