Falling roll pumps polytech deficit up

Student numbers at Aoraki Polytechnic are down 19 per cent on budget and a $2.2 million deficit for the year is now forecast.

There were 718 fulltime equivalent students (EFTS) enrolled at the end of April compared to the 887 budgeted.

This is well down on the 1038 enrolled at the same time last year, however the polytech has had two major restructures which has resulted in a number of previous courses no longer being offered.

A deficit of $409,000 had been budgeted for, but it is now forecast to blow out to $2.271m.

"Aoraki is transitioning funding into areas of priority for the region such as primary industries and trades," according to a polytech report.

"While good progress is being made, a time lag is occurring with the shift in delivery.

"This is reflected in the year-to-date enrolments and in the full year forecast for EFTS."

As a result the year-end forecast has been reduced to 1094, down from the budgeted 1269 EFTS.

"Year-to-date revenue is $1.7m below budget reflecting the lower level of students enrolled than budgeted at the end of April," the report said.

"The year-to-date and full year shortfall in EFTS-driven revenue will largely flow to the net deficit for the current year as there will be limited scope to offset any shortfall through reducing expenses."

A difficult year last year left Aoraki with a $3.1m deficit for 2013. Due to restructuring, staff numbers reduced from 174 fulltime equivalents (FTE) in 2012 to 150 FTE in 2013.

Chief executive Alex Cabrera has said the polytech had been challenged by the slowing demand for tertiary education in a buoyant local employment market.

The Timaru Herald