Polytechnics and Institutes of Technology
There are 17 institutes of technology and polytechnics located across New Zealand. Institutes of Technology generally focus on providing a hands-on, practical education, offering vocational certificates and diplomas in both general and specialised areas of study.
Many of these polytechnics or institutes of technology also offer undergraduate degrees, in fields such as business, computer science, IT, and science. Some even offer select postgraduate programmes, often through a partnership with a local university.
From Technical Schools to modern tertiary institutions
Polytechnics began in New Zealand as technical schools, the first of which was the Wellington School of Design which opened in 1886. These days modern polytechnics offer a wide range of subjects catering for a growing range of trades, occupations and professions. Traditional courses like automotive and building are still there, but so are the arts, engineering, science, business and degree level study.
Polytechnic classes are often smaller and more personal which suits some students. The courses offered usually come with a much bigger hands-on and practical component that university courses. If you ‘learn by doing’ rather than by theory alone, a polytechnic course could be just right for you. These practical courses and learning styles work for employers too, making graduates much more ‘work-ready’ than many university grads as they often come along with some practical work experience and specific skills the industry is wanting.
So what are these – institutes of technology or polytechnics?
So what are these – institutes of technology or polytechnics? Answer is they are both, and that there is actually no difference between them. The differences lie in the courses and programmes that each individual institution offers you as a potential student. In fact, about 30 years ago the then Minister of Education persuaded most of these institutes to use the new term ‘polytechnic’ in their name, however some flat out refused and left the Institute of Technology as part of their name and brand.
There have been a couple of significant mergers in the polytechnic world in recent years. Aoraki and CPIT merged to produce the Ara Institute of Canterbury. Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the Waiaraki Institute merged to create the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Both mergers promise better performance, better spending and ultimately, better opportunities for their customers, their customers being you.