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Strong 2019 enrolments at Otago and Southland polytechnics send a clear message to the Government that its mega-merger proposal is not needed in the South, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“Applications for Otago’s degree-level programmes are up by 19 per cent on 2018 while overall applications have risen 3 per cent. At the Southern Institute of Technology domestic enrolments are up 15 per cent this year and the Trades faculty is up 16 per cent on last year.

“These are strong results and reflect institutions that are not only successful, but are continuing to grow and flourish.

“The Government should be consulting with them on a way forward for polytechnic education, rather than snuffing out their ingenuity and forcing them to conform to a national model that has never even been tested.

“There may well be a need for polytechnic restructuring in other parts of the country – but don’t penalise this region for the failings of others – leave our local educational assets alone.

“I fail to see how the proposed one-size-fits-all arrangement will work, with our polytechnics and local campuses becoming nothing more than a division of a national organisation, losing much of their regional expertise and input.

“We simply cannot let the Government’s polytechnic mega-merger go ahead because it will spell the end of the innovative and successful educational programmes that both Otago and the Southland have developed - and we need a strong united voice delivering that message.”

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