While some polytechnics around the country might be struggling financially and other institutions merged or closed, the future looks bright for Whitireia Community Polytechnic. That’s according to its latest annual report which shows enrolments are up 20 per cent on this time last year and there's money in the bank.
Now in its 16th year, the polytechnic has its main campus in Porirua City as well as campuses on the Kapiti Coast and in Wellington City. Enrolments have increased annually for the past 10 years and equivalent full-time students now number almost 2000, says Whitireia chief executive Deirdre Dale.
The polytechnic ended the 2000 year with a cash operating surplus of $376,000, its 10th annual surplus in a row.
Whitireia Community Polytechnic's new writing programme coordinator says her position is a chance to bring her many skills together in the one job. Pip Byrne, who started as coordinator this year, says her new job involves skills in administration, writing and being an understanding manager of writers, as well as tutoring.
Ms Byrne will be taking classes in the first-year writing course and tutoring in the Required Reading part of the new Level 3 course for the Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing). She will supervise students through a course of reading and analysing the sorts of books they are writing for their major project. Several children's novels, a collection of short stories and a non-fiction book are among the publications being produced by this year's students.
Ms Byrne's skills have been honed during a career in writing and the theatre. Trained as a journalist, she worked in the Radio New Zealand newsroom before studying drama at the New Zealand Drama School, Toi Whakaari, then worked as a professional actor at Centrepoint Theatre in Palmerston North.
When Trish Brimblecombe started working as a part-time technician at Whitireia Polytechnic 16 years ago she had no idea that it would lead to her completing a Master’s degree in Communications, enrolling in a PhD, being part of Government ‘think tanks’ on the role of technology in tertiary education, presenting at international conferences, regularly attending technology sector seminars in Auckland and Wellington, working as an industry consultant, or becoming a full member of the New Zealand Computer Society.
Trish was the Head of School of Computing for seven years and as she said: "three months is a long time in computing." So it was a hectic seven years during which she had had to keep on top of her academic qualifications and industry knowledge and ensure that her staff were doing the same.
Trish completed her Master’s Degree in 1999, which included research into the Wellington Business Clusters Project, looking at the significance of information technology-related development. Apart from the polytechnic job she worked at Innovation & Systems, Wellington on contract, which she said kept her grounded in reality and helped her reflect at the polytechnic on what was happening in the industry. Her role was to facilitate software and mobile internet clusters in Wellington. It provided pathways for companies to get advice on various tertiary courses and enabled her to give students feedback on what employers expected.