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It’s a sad day for education in the regions, with the Government’s proposed polytechnic megamerger likely to negatively impact on tertiary and apprenticeship training across Otago, National’s MP for Waitaki Jacqui Dean says.

“My biggest concern is the loss of regional input, with the Government’s proposed NZ Institute of Skills and Technology taking over polytechnic programme design across all polytechnics.

“I fail to see how this one-size-fits-all arrangement will work. There have been some exciting and innovative programmes developed through campuses like Otago Polytechnic in Central Otago, around adventure tourism, hospitality and viticulture.

“Sadly, the loss of local input will mean courses like these will be unlikely to see the light of day under this new regime.

“Of course it’s these industry-tailored programmes, that have been developed in response to local needs, and which have allowed graduates strong future employment options – all this will be lost.

“I’m also very concerned that the enrolment and management of apprentices and industry trainees, will be removed from local Industry Training Organisations across Otago and centralised.

“Again, it’s this potential loss of local knowledge and essential regional industry input that could have huge negative implications for trades and industry training - to lose this regional knowledge and the experience of staff built up over many years will be a travesty.

“What’s worse, while no institutions were named as facing possible closure, today there was a suggestion the future of satellite campuses could be considered. This does not bode well for staff and students at places like Cromwell campus and Ara’s Oamaru campus.

“These regional campuses are a community hub, attracting staff and students to live in the area, train locally and often graduate to work there and boost the local economy.

“It seems the Government has failed to take into account the far-reaching implications of its proposals by taking the heart out of regional tertiary and trades-based training.”

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