Ara Institute of Canterbury to offer nursing training in Timaru
Timaru's polytechnic has announced it will create a "health training hub" in South Canterbury, as Otago Polytechnic withdraws from providing nursing courses in the region.
Ara Institute of Canterbury will offer the Bachelor of Nursing in Timaru in 2018.
Ara currently offers pre-health and midwifery qualifications and placement for medical imaging in Timaru.
The inclusion of nursing would help to create a "health training hub" in the South Canterbury region, acting head of nursing at Ara Lisa McKay said.
Bachelor of Nursing students based in Timaru but studying with Otago Polytechnic will start studying with Ara from 2018.
"Both Ara and Otago Polytechnic have excellent nursing schools with some of the highest completion and employment rates in the country. By working together we can optimise the opportunities for Timaru-based nursing students," McKay said.
Under the agreement, the 31 current Timaru-based Bachelor of Nursing students will study from Ara's facilities, but will continue their enrolment through Otago Polytechnic until they graduate in two years' time.
Otago Polytechnic will withdraw from the delivery of the Bachelor of Nursing in Timaru once all students have successfully completed their programme.
Timaru-based nursing lecturers, one fulltime and one part-time, have been offered the opportunity to transfer from Otago Polytechnic to be employed by Ara.
They will continue to teach the current Otago Polytechnic nursing students until their graduation.
Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said it was important current Timaru Bachelor of Nursing students complete their qualification and graduate from Otago Polytechnic.
"Otago Polytechnic's focus is to ensure our students continue to receive the best education through this transition. We have been working closely with Ara to make it a seamless change. Otago Polytechnic's Nursing programme continues to be offered in Dunedin and attracts students from all over the country," he said.
"Before the merger, Aoraki had not offered a nursing programme, however nursing education was offered by Otago Polytechnic to ensure nursing education was available in South Canterbury," he said.
Since the merger between Aoraki Polytechnic and CPIT took effect, it was a "natural transition" for Ara to offer the nursing papers at its campus, consolidating the tertiary provision for the region, he said.
This was a "very considered decision" about tertiary provision for the region, Ker said.
"We concluded that it makes sense for Ara to use their resources already located in Timaru. Our students are our focus."
Under the agreement, Otago would continue to teach its current nursing students in Timaru until they graduated. Otago Polytechnic would expand its nursing provision in Dunedin and would employ new staff there.
"We are not losing Equivalent Full Time Students or staffing numbers," he said.
Otago Polytechnic began offering the nursing programme in Timaru in September 2003, Ker said.
South Canterbury District Health Board director patient, nursing and midwifery Lisa Blackler welcomed the move.
"This training hub will ensure we attract high quality nursing graduates and promotes our DHB as an exceptional place to start a career in health."
Ara will boost its current Certificate in Study and Career Preparation to level 4 from July 2017 to provide opportunities for potential nursing students in Timaru to pathway to the degree qualification.
Ara communications advisor Breeze Robertson said Ara was now working through the requirements for delivering the Bachelor of Nursing in Timaru as part of ongoing assessments of learning facilities across all the campuses.
"It is difficult to anticipate how many students will enrol, however Ara is ready to respond to the demand to support health training in South Canterbury," she said.
Meanwhile, the consultation process regarding the fate of the Primary Industry programmes delivered by Ara in Timaru ended on Friday as scheduled, but the overall process was extended until Tuesday for evaluation of feedback," Robertson said.