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Otago Polytechnic continues to play leading role in Dunedin economy

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Otago Polytechnic has contributed almost a billion dollars to the Dunedin economy over the past five years.

Otago Polytechnic’s latest Economic Impact Report shows the institution’s Dunedin Campus added a total value of more than $912 million to the Dunedin economy from 2016 to 2020.

The report shows that its Dunedin Campus accounted for $365.6 million total expenditure to the city’s economy in 2020, an increase of 4% on 2019.

"These 2020 results show that Otago Polytechnic is continuing to make significant contributions to Dunedin’s economy," says Dr Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive, Otago Polytechnic.

"This report reflects Otago Polytechnic’s record of innovation and adaptation."

The report also assessed the total economic expenditure of all Otago Polytechnic’s activities - including its Cromwell Campus and Auckland International Campus - to be $469 million in 2020, up from $464.3 million in 2019.

Over half of that flow-on expenditure across all campuses was driven by student spending. The remainder was derived from day-to-day Polytechnic expenditure and the impact of staff spending their wages and salaries within their local economies.

Report welcomed

Fraser Liggett, Economic Development Manager, Enterprise Dunedin, welcomed the report.

"We appreciate the clear and demonstrable economic contribution which Otago Polytechnic makes to the city.

"Our tertiary institutions remain some of the most significant contributors to our economy.

"Otago Polytechnic’s wider contribution in enabling and growing the next generation of highly skilled talent, innovators and entrepreneurs is hugely significant for the city and region," Mr Liggett says.

"This goes beyond the impact of student and staff spending, with the Polytechnic also attracting friends and families to Dunedin for events such as graduations."

Otago Polytechnic is one of Dunedin’s larger employers. In 2020, it employed 532.3 full-time equivalent (FTES) staff at its Dunedin campus. In total, Otago Polytechnic employed 616 full-time equivalent staff (FTES) in 2020, across all its campuses in Dunedin, Cromwell and Auckland (AIC).

Overall, Otago Polytechnic’s enrolments in 2020 totaled 9367 fulltime or part-time students (headcount), or 5385 equivalent full-time students (EFTS). Although. there was a 2.5% decline in international EFTS from 283 to 276 EFTS in 2020, a number of factors combined to produce the overall increase in EFTS, the most significant of which was the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship fund (TTAF).

Dr Gibbons says: "We certainly benefited from the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), which lifted enrolments in the second half of 2020. However, our ability to collaborate with industry and community is also a big factor in our institutional health."

Benefits beyond economic

"Although this report looks at economic results, Otago Polytechnic - or more pertinently, its people - provide other precious benefits, or tikanga.

"These include culture and knowledge transfer, human and social capital enhancement, community support, and well-being and happiness.

"There is value in education beyond fiscal bounds," says Dr Gibbons.

"Education changes people’s lives and the trajectory for them, their whanau, and communities. There is growth in learning new things and reaching new goals, contributing to society and helping others to achieve this.

"These benefits are more difficult to measure but contribute both directly and indirectly to economic, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental wellbeing."

Focusing on the future

Otago Polytechnic’s ongoing transformation as a subsidiary of Te PÅ«kenga-New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology offers many reasons to be excited, Dr Gibbons says.

"As a subsidiary of Te PÅ«kenga, we are involved in a highly collaborative process, working together to make improvements for the betterment of all learners.

"It’s imperative to keep in mind that our learners are - and always will be - at the centre of what we do.

"The charter for Te Pukenga is clear that while there are benefits in a networked approach, we also need to be responsive in the regions - and this is something Otago Polytechnic has proven time and again.

"There is a huge amount of experience and expertise among Otago Polytechnic’s staff, all of whom are contributing to the transition to a networked system.

"This ranges from secondments of Otago Polytechnic staff to Te PÅ«kenga positions, at a range of levels, to collaborating with other subsidiaries on a range of programmes.

"And we continue to work with industry, both locally and further afield, to develop future-proofed programmes.

"We see our role at Otago Polytechnic as two-fold in the coming years: as we contribute to vocational education in New Zealand, we also acknowledge we have a part to play in the economic recovery," Dr Gibbons says.

Trades Training Centre

Otago Polytechnic’s $31.7 million Trades Training Centre is a recent example.

Employing around 200 tradespeople as well as construction managers and consultants, the Dunedin campus project is significant to both the local and national construction industry, in the context of the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project was submitted by Otago Polytechnic early last year in response to the Government’s call to develop "shovel-ready" projects, aimed at stimulating and supporting economic activity in the city and region.

Construction on the three-story centre was started by Naylor Live in January 2021, and is expected to be completed in late-2022.

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