The release of The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Ltd’s 2019 Annual Report reveals a year-on-year increase in learner enrolments and overall satisfaction at the country’s specialist provider of online and distance learning at tertiary level.
Open Polytechnic is one of the largest polytechnics in the country, enrolling one-in-four learners in the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic (ITP) sector.
Open Polytechnic enrolled 26,395 individual learners in 2019 and achieved over 100% of Student Achievement Component funding caps after receiving an additional $2.5m in funding from the Tertiary Education Commission as a result of enrolment demand. It reported a financial surplus of $400,000 for the year.
Enrolment growth saw an increase in learners participating in IT, business, horticulture, early childhood education, financial services, construction, legal executive and psychology programmes.
Strong enrolment demand for Open Polytechnic courses and programmes is due to a combination of factors says Chief Executive Dr Caroline Seelig.
“Our continued focus on ensuring our portfolio of programmes are aligned with employer and industry demand has helped drive this growth. We have also committed to offering an affordable education for our learners by not increasing tuition fees for the last five years,” says Dr Seelig.
“On top of this, over the last two years we have implemented a transformation programme which gives learners access to a broader range of support and has seen Open Polytechnic innovate in the areas of courseware development and education technology so we can to continue to enrich the online learning experience and enhance our learners’ success.”
As a result, overall learner satisfaction grew by 3% on the previous year to 86% and satisfaction with course materials was up 3% to 89%. There was an increase in course completions, with 75% of learners completing their course in 2019 compared to 74% in 2018, while 85% of learners also said Open Polytechnic programmes were good value for money.
In 2019, the Government progressed its Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) programme to reform the ITP sector into a unified, sustainable vocational education system that puts learners at its heart.
Open Polytechnic Board Chair Vaughan Renner says the Open Polytechnic’s transformation programme reflects some of the changes the reform is proposing.
“Open Polytechnic has been on an evolutionary journey to ensure our learners benefit from the changes that technology and new ways of working bring to the online and distance learning experience. The reforms will mean Open Polytechnic can share our expertise with the rest of the sector for the benefit of the vocational education system, employers and learners as we rise to meet the skills challenges facing the New Zealand economy in the years ahead,” says Mr Renner.
To support the wider education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Polytechnic has made its iQualify and iQualify for Schools online learning platforms available free of charge to tertiary education providers and primary and secondary schools respectively.
To view the Open Polytechnic 2019 Annual Report, head to: https://bit.ly/2X4Xo91