Big community support for polytech

Amalgamation must be the last resort, Aoraki Polytechnic Council was told yesterday by key stakeholders.

A meeting was held with community leaders, high school representatives, Timaru District Council staff and mayor, Chamber of Commerce and South Canterbury District Health Board amongst others to discuss the future of the polytechnic.

Polytechnic council chairman Kevin Cosgrove said everyone was supportive of the polytechnic, and wanted it to continue but with refinements.

"The feeling was a merger was the last thing to consider, which was the council's view also.

"Stakeholders want the council to remain independent but understand the challenges we are facing."

While there was support for the courses the polytechnic currently had, more input would be sought on future courses, he said

"Everybody was enthusiastic about what had been delivered so far but realise we need to refine what we do and maybe call in the services of others people."

The next step was to form an advisory group working with employers, service people and school to discuss future courses.

The meeting followed on from the appointment of an independent adviser Malcolm Inglis to look at the future of the polytech and present options to the council next month.

He was appointed on the back of Aoraki suffering a financial loss of $1.6 million last year and facing a projected loss of $2.1m this year, as well as forecasting 328 fewer equivalent fulltime students this year than budgeted for.

A report that was commissioned by the Timaru District Council and Aoraki Development Business Tourism and released this week shows the polytech brought $47.4m into South Canterbury last year.

The Timaru Herald