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Commissioner for Western Institute of Technology

11 December 2006

Commissioner for Western Institute of Technology

A Crown Commissioner is to be appointed to run the New Plymouth-based Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT), Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen announced today.

Following a formal consultation process, WITT's council members advised Dr Cullen of their acceptance of this proposal and agreed to stand down.

"I am grateful for the work of councillors in trying to manage longstanding financial problems at the institute," said Dr Cullen.

"They have done their best and made progress in some areas, during a difficult time of strong labour market conditions and declining enrolments. With continuing pressure on enrolments and persisting deficits, however, it is now apparent that a fresh approach is necessary.

"I have therefore appointed professional director Murray Strong as commissioner. He has considerable governance and senior management experience in the commercial and tertiary education sectors. He has served as Chair of the Aviation Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO) during which time he led the restructuring of its governance systems.

"I am confident he has the right skills to take the polytechnic forward." He takes up has position on 15 December.

"Mr Strong assumes all the authority and responsibilities of the council. He will work with the chief executive and the Taranaki community to develop a new business model."

Dr Cullen said the government is committed to tertiary education in Taranaki, and has made provision of $7 million to support WITT into the future.

"I will ensure the commissioner is supported by an advisory committee comprising people with an understanding of the tertiary education and training needs of Taranaki. The committee will be appointed in early 2007."

Dr Cullen said the current tertiary education reforms aim to change a system where funding has been driven by volumes of students to one more focused on the quality of provision.

"I am confident the reforms, coupled with today's move, will ensure Taranaki, like other regions, will continue to have high quality tertiary provision that meets the region's needs."

ENDS

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