Aoraki Polytech $3.1m in the red

A difficult year has left Aoraki Polytechnic with a $3.1 million deficit for 2013.

Its annual report released this week outlined the loss, which was budgeted to only be $789,000 but blew out after revenue was $3.8m less than expected. On the positive side of the ledger operating cost were $1.5m less than expected.

The significant deficit had been signalled during the year in financial reports.

Aoraki chief executive Alex Cabrera said all areas of operating expenditure were closely managed throughout the year and staff numbers reduced from 174 full time equivalents (FTE) in 2012 to 150 FTE in 2013.

"It was always going to be a difficult year for us as we faced the dual challenges of slowing demand for tertiary education in a buoyant local employment market.

"Aoraki has spent the last year making deep, lasting changes to every aspect of its business, to improve financial performance and refocusing on meeting the needs of students, employers and the local community.

"We are concentrating on the areas of greatest demand, where students have the most likelihood of being able to walk into a job at the end of their studies, and that have the greatest impact on, and demand within, our local regions."

Instead of providing education through partner organisations around New Zealand, Aoraki will now concentrate on meeting local needs through direct delivery.

Cabrera said the benefits of what was started in 2013 would be seen in the coming years, however a deficit was forecast for the current year. In the latest financial report a deficit of $409,000 was being forecast for 2014.

"We are expecting an improved result in 2014, still a deficit but smaller. Management focus is on transforming the Aoraki Polytechnic portfolio for 2015/16 rather than marginal short term revenue activities. That could distract from the long term plan."

In 2014, primary industries and trades students are forecast to grow.

Aoraki still holds $27.9m in reserves.

The Timaru Herald