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Awards recognise excellence


22 August 2008
Institutes of Technology & Polytechnics of New Zealand

Awards recognise institutes’ of technology and polytechnics’ excellence

“Institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) have recognised the excellence of their peers in the 2008 ITP New Zealand Awards. Six awards have been made that match the ITP sector charter that was agreed by members in 2003”, said Dave Guerin, ITP New Zealand Executive Director.

The Award winners for 2008 are listed below and full citations are provided in the appendix. Any of the statements in the citations can be attributed to Dave Guerin.

• Co-operation for Results: Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (Phil Agnew for TradeFIT – Real life training activities, project based learning)
• Widening Access: Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (Te Mana Rangatahi – Empowering Youth. Parenting, Employment and Life Skills Programme for Young Mums from 16-24 years)
• Relevant Learning: Tai Poutini Polytechnic (Fine Tuning the Digger School)
• Quality Improvement: Wellington Institute of technology (Centre for Hospitality and Tourism as a Centre of Vocational Excellence)
• Global Role: Otago Polytechnic (Education for Sustainability)
• Innovative Support Services: Universal College of Learning (Student Resource Centre at UCOL Palmerston North)

ITP New Zealand acknowledges the support of the Department of Labour in sponsoring the Awards ceremony held at our conference.


ITP New Zealand Awards 2008 - Citations

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand (ITPNZ) gave out the following awards on 13th August at a ceremony held during its annual conference.

The Cooperation for Results Award is for cooperation with other education providers, the community or industry, leading to enhanced results.

Winner: Phil Agnew from Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), for TradeFIT

Phil Agnew is project manager for TradeFIT – a new approach to industry training developed at the Trades Innovation Institute (TII) of CPIT. This project is a co-operative venture between CPIT, Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) and industry. It addresses areas of training that have not traditionally been offered by ITPs, such as commercial construction, transportation, distribution and warehousing. It also provides extended experiential training opportunities in plumbing, drainlaying, gasfitting and brick/block trades for the South Island.

A key feature of the project was that it enabled construction students to build houses in a sub-division situation. This enhanced the pre-trade students’ abilities to understand the synergies between the trades when working under pressure of time in a ‘real-life’ scenario.

Industry contribution was crucial to the success of the project and Phil Agnew’s entrepreneurship was instrumental in making these relationships effective. Support garnered from industry came from services and advice as often as it did from goods, equipment or money. Phil ensured that the project was built around ongoing and mutually beneficial relationships where both sides of the partnership gain. 135 partnerships have been developed with firms, to match a cash contribution made by the TEC through its Partnerships for Excellence fund. Industry partners now approach CPIT to become involved and TradeFIT is a working and effective training site that buzzes with activity.

The Widening Access Award is for practices that widen the audience for learning, and supports their success.

Winner: Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki for Te Mana Rangatahi (Empowering Youth) programme

Te Mana Rangatahi is a WITT foundation programme targeting young mothers. It aims to empower them to re-engage in the learning process and through the knowledge gained to increase their options in life, parenting and employment skills.

The programme was established in 2004 as a joint venture between WITT and the Otaraua Hapu Management Committee. The typical student is between 16 – 24 years old, pregnant or with at least one child under the age of three. They have low or no qualifications, and usually left school early. They are looking to develop their foundation skills and improve their parenting skills.

This award is not just about widening access, but keeping that access open. That has been made possible by the extraordinary commitment of the staff and students. The programme has had high running costs, but staff and students have made it work through location changes, having staff continue on an unpaid basis after funds ran out, providing transport to students, securing new sources of funding from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), the Ministry of Education, and the local Primary Health Organisation.

The programme’s main strength is the specialist tutorial staff members, who work tirelessly to build on students’ academic, employment and personal skills and to foster lifelong learning for the students, their children and their whanau.

The Relevant Learning Award is for innovative practices that improve the relevance of learning to community and industry needs, as recognised by them.

Winner: Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) for its Certificate in Civil Plant Operation Programme

Following feedback from employers, TPP completely redeveloped its Certificate in Civil Plant Operation from a plant-focused, unit-standard-based programme into an integrated real-world, scenario-based training programme focusing on developing ‘fit-for-industry’ attitudes, as well as plant operation skills and industry knowledge. The programme is better known as The Digger School.

The programme began in 2002, but in 2006, following up on a challenge by industry to produce graduates with a ‘fit-for-industry’ set of attitudes, TPP made numerous changes to the programme. The programme was extended from 24 to 30 weeks to cover new content; this included new topics and more field trips, increasing students’ overall knowledge base and personal skills. Additions to the programme also included new teaching resources emphasising plant safety and the consequences of unsafe operational practice.

Tutors undertook a comprehensive professional development programme and took on a modified industry supervisor’s role. This enabled them to begin the process of shaping fit-for-industry attitudes from day one. Daily and weekly feedback systems between tutors and students have also enhanced this relationship.

A new assessment package linking numerous unit standard elements and performance criteria to task-based exercises has strengthened the assessment process in creating ‘fit-for-industry’ graduates.

Student attendance and results have improved, employer views are positive and profitability is up.

The Quality Improvement Award is for new quality assurance processes that demonstrably improve student success.

Winner: Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), for recognition of their Centre for Hospitality and Tourism as a Centre of Vocational Excellence.

New Zealand does not currently have any processes in place to recognise providers for excellence in the delivery of teaching and learning, as opposed to research. The Government has implemented teaching excellence awards to reward distinction in teaching. While these awards are an admirable initiative, they only recognise the excellence of an individual, rather than the depth and breadth of quality that is cultivated within a centre or area of expertise in a tertiary institution.

Faced with this vacuum, WelTec has taken the initiative and developed a set of eight criteria that collectively define what they believe are the essential criteria for a Centre of Vocational Excellence to exhibit. Alongside these criteria they have developed threshold criteria and evidence guides. The eight criteria are:
Leadership • Relationship with industry • Collaboration with other providers • Teaching and scholarship • Student success • National and international standing • Responsiveness to national and regional goals • Planning and resourcing.

The concept and criteria are based on the Centres of Vocational Excellence programme in the UK.

Most importantly, WelTec has collected evidence for their Centre for Hospitality and Tourism, submitted it to an external panel and passed with flying colours. They have achieved greater recognition for their efforts and added to the quality improvement options available to all institutes of technology and polytechnics.

The Global Role Award is for a practice that materially prepares New Zealanders to live and work in the wider world or supports the development of education on other countries.

Winner: Otago Polytechnic for its Education for Sustainability Programme

Otago Polytechnic has set itself a goal of “every graduate may think and act as a sustainable practitioner by 2009”. This goal is aimed at contributing to a better community, producing graduates across the institution with relevant skills and values, and about working closely with industry to both identify and achieve sustainable practice in each discipline.

The initiative is based on the goal of preparing every graduate of the institution with education for sustainability (EfS) across all disciplines and programmes.

Otago has integrated sustainability across its operations including programme design, staff development and even student entry surveys, to provide a baseline for measurement of change. Otago has also been working on waste and carbon audits, recycling, polybikes, fleet management, and supplier agreements.

Among numerous other projects a Living Campus initiative is underway incorporating the development of a community garden, an interactive open air experience, and enhancing the sustainability of the campus.

Otago is also hosting, organising, and participating in, the Sustainable Habitat Challenge – a national collaborative project for teams around New Zealand to design, develop, and build sustainable housing in their local community.

Otago is committed to the idea that sustainability should be integrated in all activities of daily life, and therefore should also be part of tertiary and vocational training.

The Innovative Support Services Award is for a support service that enables and facilitates innovation.

Winner: Universal College of Learning (UCOL) for its Student Resource Centre

UCOL’s Student Resource Centre is an accessible and enabling innovation that provides students with a central hub for services that are essential to their study. Its culture is student-friendly and approachable as well as efficient and convenient. Feedback from staff and students is overwhelmingly positive.

Improving service for students was the key goal in setting up the Student Resource Centre. A further goal was to assist lecturers in the reduction of their workload. In particular, the sometimes haphazard handing in of completed assignments and the time taken to collect, and then distribute marked assignments back to students, was encroaching on their available teaching time.

By diverting non-teaching activities away from the classroom, the centre relieves the pressure on, and workload of, faculty staff, so that they can focus on the quality of their teaching.

Centre staff designed a central collection point for assignments, where students could also pick up their completed assignments. Students and staff are clear when an assignment has been handed in, students can track the progress of their assignment marking online and teaching staff members are freed up from a stream of students handing in and picking up assignments.
This simple, but important, function of the centre has made a real difference to student convenience and teaching staff time. Students and staff also made it clear in their evaluations that the quality of this service was exceptional and made a real difference to their feelings about the potential for stress in dealing with assignments.

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