'Local focus important'

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012

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Aoraki Polytechnic has to work closely with the community to stay viable, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says.

The minister was in town yesterday to meet with local businesses and spoke about the future of the polytech.

Financial challenges have led the polytech to appoint an independent adviser.

Malcolm Inglis has been given a wide brief to look at all options, which will be presented to the Aoraki Polytechnic Council in December.

Aoraki suffered a financial loss of $1.6 million last year and is staring down a projected loss of $2.1m this year, as well as forecasting 328 fewer equivalent fulltime students (EFTS) this year than budgeted for.

Mr Joyce said a polytechnic was vital for a region like South Canterbury which did not have a university. It was key that it trained students to meet the needs of employers.

"The biggest focus needs to be on what they [Aoraki] are doing for the region, including Ashburton and Oamaru. I am less excited about what they are doing in Christchurch and Dunedin."

The polytech had been in talks with Lincoln University to provide some of its agriculture-based courses, he said.

He had no view on whether or not the polytech should amalgamate. "It is about what will bring the best result for the students."

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- The Timaru Herald

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