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The Government’s decision to strip Otago Polytechnic of assets and send all power to centralised polytechnic is devastating for our region, List MP based in Dunedin Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Government’s announcement today will cost thousands of jobs across the country and may be the final whistle for polytechnics like our Otago Polytech, despite it being one of highest performing polytechs in the country.

“The Government has decided all regional polytechnics will be renamed as subsidiaries for two years, after that polytechnics and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) will be dissolved. This is disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships.

“Otago employers have told me they will cease to employ apprentices next year if apprentices go back to polytechnics. This is a big step backwards especially when our construction sector is crying out for apprentices.

“As a former hospital manager I know well the quality and responsiveness of Otago Polytechnic to local nursing needs. I have little confidence that responsiveness will be maintained after the mega-merger.

“The Otago brand is highly regarded globally, particularly in health qualifications. The potential loss of that identity is a blow for future graduates who will have a qualification that sounds like it was downloaded from the internet.

“The Government has brutally dismissed the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training. Otago institutions and businesses are best placed to assess and deliver for the needs of Otago, but Education Minister Chris Hipkins is blatantly ignoring them.

“The Government’s reforms will dissolve Otago Polytechnic into a hollow and meaningless ‘legacy’ campus. It is pulling down a successful, high-performing institution and creating a mediocre model.

“National supports regional education and regional autonomy. We will return polytechnic assets and decision making back to communities and the region. And we will return apprentices to industry.

“National will fight for Otago’s voice and autonomy in these idealistic education reforms.”

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