The Plans


Being informed allows you to make decisions that you think are right. We encourage everyone to take a good look through the summary of decisions document so you what’s planned for New Zealand’s ITPs and come to your own conclusions. You already know how we feel, so use this page as a resource to figure things out for yourself. We’ve also got a FAQ page, so head over there for some clear and concise answers to burning questions.

Under the Reform of Vocational Education, all New Zealand’s 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) will be merged into a single entity called the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

The Government believes this reform is the best way forward for both the Vocational Education sector, and businesses and industry.

On August 1, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced it would proceed with the reform. These are the seven key changes:

  • Create a New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology: the centralised body, merging all 16 ITPs

  • Create Workforce Development Councils (WDCs): four to seven industry-governed statutory bodies

  • Establish Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs)

  • Shift the role of supporting workplace learning from ITOs to providers

  • Establish Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs)

  • Establish Te Taumata Aronui: a group to help ensure that the Reform of Vocational Education reflects the Government’s commitment to Māori Crown partnerships

  • Unify the funding system for vocational education

Minister Hipkins said in the foreword of the Reform of Vocational Education consultation discussion document that the country’s ITPs are going broke while we’re facing critical skill shortages. There is some truth in this, but it does not extend to every ITP in New Zealand. His comments are, in no way, reflective of SIT.

What Stand Up For SIT wants to see changed:

Better regional representation
The SIT subsidiary board needs to have a larger local representation on it to ensure regional voices are present and heard. We believe the board should be made up 75% local/locally-connected people. This best ensures regional responsiveness and means students in Southland will be better served by people who have an intimate knowledge of the region.

Retention of international student recruitment
It's really important to correctly match students with regional New Zealand because often students are coming from places which are the polar opposite in terms of way of life – size, climate, population, number of services, etc. International student recruitment should not be centralised; SIT needs to continue its own campaign in this area (as it currently is). The institution has a unique skillset and knowledge in this area, with long-term connections with the international community.

Threshold for statutory intervention
We absolutely agree that ITPs in the sector need to be performing at a certain level that is sustainable for the sector. However, the threshold for statutory intervention should be set by academic and financial expectations, and not at the Minister’s whim.

Read the Government’s:

Within the consultation document, the Government lists the below reasons as to why the changes to the ITP sector are being proposed:

  • New Zealand needs to be ready for a fast-changing future of skills, learning and work

  • Employers need confidence the vocational education system will respond to their needs

  • The regions of New Zealand need a collaborative, flexible and sustainable vocational education system

  • New Zealand needs a vocational education system that delivers to the needs of all learners

  • The Government wants to build on New Zealand’s international reputation as a great place to study

  • Education technology is changing

Stand Up For SIT provides a rebuttal to some of the above points:

  • The fact that Zero Fees was introduced by SIT in 2000 in the first place shows how adaptive the institution is. SIT’s future was looking pretty murky back then, but the Southland community rallied behind the inception of the scheme and today SIT is thriving. A recent blow came when the newly-elected Government introduced its Fees Free scheme – free tertiary fees for students. SIT already had this model, so needed to come up with another way to ensure it didn’t lose its valuable students. The Mayor Tim Shadbolt accommodation bursary was introduced to give students a hand in accommodation costs. SIT still felt the brunt of the Government’s new policy then but has worked hard to retain students. We believe that the proposed changes will cause more problems rather that solve the ones that exist in the system (although not at SIT) as it stands.

  • SIT already has an existing, strong reputation among the international education community. Roughly 1000 of SIT’s students are international and it is widely recognised as an exceptional learning institution.

  • Education technology continues to change, and SIT continues to change with it. In 2018, it introduced an immersive virtual reality teaching tool for its Bachelor of Nursing programme. In the coming years, SIT expects to build a Centre for Creative Industries – an exhibition, performance and teaching hub. Here, where all its animation, film, fashion, gaming, music and virtual reality development courses will be housed.

The Government and Education Minister have painted a dire picture for New Zealand’s ITP sector. Below you can find some of their concerns, and what SIT’s position is in regards to these concerns.

 The Government says…
The new institute would create better relationships between the VE sector and local business and community.
In fact:

  • SIT has 45 advisory committees advising on the programmes it offers. More than 250 members are from the local business, industry and community. External members chair these committees. Under one ITP, there will be one advisory committee for a region which could be Otago Southland or larger.

  • SIT staff and council are members on many local business, industry and community committees, boards and groups in sports, arts, culture, business, including Chief Executive Penny Simmonds playing a major role in the development and implementation of the Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS).

  • The Southland community contributed more than $7.25 million to assist with the establishment of the Zero Fees Scheme upon the scheme’s inception.

  • Every year, the Southland community contributes more than $100,000 in prizes and awards for SIT students.

The Government says…
The ITPs are in financial strife and it has to stop.

In fact:

  • SIT has never run a deficit.

  • SIT has diversified and responded to address changes in funding models.

  • SIT has not been irresponsible with public money.

  • SIT monitors budgets and expenditure all year round ensuring that it does not spend money it doesn’t have.

  • SIT makes financial contributions of approximately $300,000 every year to community arts cultural and sports events.

  • SIT has significant assets – accommodation apartments and cash reserves ($36 million) as well as the normal educational facilities.

The Government says…
ITP students are not achieving good employment outcomes.
In fact:

  • 97% of SIT graduates surveyed (which had a 51% response rate) are in employment or further study.

  • Employer feedback about SIT graduates is highly positive.

The Government says…
ITP students are dissatisfied with their outcomes/study.
In fact:

  • 94% of SIT students are satisfied with SIT and their programme of study.

  • Students in Invercargill who are eligible for the Government’s Fees Free scheme also get an accommodation bursary of $100 per week from SIT. Many SIT graduates finish their studies debt-free.

Data retrieved from