Open Polytechnic turns 60
This month marks the 60th Anniversary of a trailblazing institution in New Zealand distance education.
Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis have studied with The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and its predecessors The Technical Correspondence Institute and the Technical Correspondence School.
Rather than attending a campus, they have studied in homes and workplaces in every part of the country supported by the Polytechnic’s distance learning services.
The Polytechnic has grown from a technical correspondence school, which delivered resettlement training to returning servicemen and servicewomen in 1946, to New Zealand’s specialist provider of open and distance learning, and one of the largest Polytechnics in the country.
Through the 1960s and 70s the institution was New Zealand’s biggest provider of trade and technician training, expanding into professional courses in the 1980s. Renamed The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand in 1990, the institution has gone on to establish an international reputation in distance education, winning the Commonwealth’s top award in the field in 2004.
Presented by the Vancouver based Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the award acknowledged The Open Polytechnic’s “extraordinary outreach in the community, empowering its learners with high quality vocational programmes.”
With over two thirds of its 30,000 students studying while holding a job, The Open Polytechnic today is one New Zealand’s major educators of people currently in the workforce in support of the Government’s drive to raise national skill levels.
Last year, the Polytechnic won the Supreme Vero Award for Excellence in Business Support in recognition of its contribution to New Zealand’s business and small business sectors.
Along with teaching its own students, The Open Polytechnic is also contributing its distance learning expertise to the wider education sector. The Polytechnic is currently leading three separate projects backed by $2.5 million in funding from the Tertiary Education Commission to support collaborative eLearning and resource development at the national level.