Changes at Open Polytechnic to benefit learners

Posted on 3 March 2020

The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand has today [9 February] announced it will be making organisational changes designed to enhance its services and take advantage of new technology to better meet the needs of its learners.

“The Open Polytechnic is New Zealand’s largest distance learning tertiary education organisation with more than 30,000 learners studying with it each year – over 70% of whom are in employment”, says Open Polytechnic Council Chairperson Murray Bain. “Changes being introduced at Open Polytechnic mean that this significant group of learners will have access to a broader range of academic and mentoring support, while also benefitting from an increase in industry involvement in courseware development and the latest advances in education technology.”

Mr Bain says the changes are about meeting the needs of current and future students.  It is not a cost-cutting exercise.

Open Polytechnic currently employs 389 permanent full-time equivalent staff (FTEs). Under the changes 45 FTE academic and management roles will be disestablished, with the establishment of 46 FTE new academic and online specialist leadership roles aimed at ensuring Open Polytechnic services suit the needs of learners. Where existing staff meet the criteria they will be employed in the newly created roles.

“Our world, and the world of our learners is rapidly changing.  How we access learning and information has evolved even over the past few years. We need to keep innovating and adapting to meet learner needs in an increasingly fast-paced, online world.”

“Open Polytechnic have been consulting closely with staff over the last three months as to the best way to organise ourselves to benefit learners. That has been a useful and important process and the Council is satisfied that a number of practical changes suggested by staff have been incorporated into the design. Final decisions on the organisational changes were announced to staff on 9 February and we will now move towards implementation,” says Mr Bain.

Open Polytechnic Chief Executive Dr Caroline Seelig says the organisation is a leader in flexible learning for learners upskilling for job and career progression, and has been investing heavily in digital courseware and services over the last several years. 

Dr Seelig says the organisation will now enter a transition phase before changes begin to be implemented from April 2018 in a way that ensures learners continue to receive quality learning and teaching.

“We will be working with affected staff through the transition to ensure people are well supported and have options - either being confirmed in current roles or applying for new roles.”

“Both the leadership team and our staff are committed to delivering a world-class learning experience to our busy distance learners throughout our transformation and beyond.  We will be communicating with our learners about the transition so there are no surprises and working closely with staff to deliver on that commitment.”