FutureCOL is offering two zero-fee programmes this year as its new CEO Bharat Guha, the financial architect of the Southern Institute of Technology's (SIT) successful Zero Fee Scheme, trials a similar programme.

The Hastings tertiary institute is offering a free Certificate in Cafe, Restaurant and Beverage Service and a Diploma in Computing, saving New Zealanders and permanent resident students up to $6200. To retain zero-fee status, students must show academic progress and satisfactory attendance.

Mr Guha said he discussed the initiative with Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule, Hastings councillor Henare O'Keefe and Tukituki MP Craig Foss.

"There seems to be universal support from the community for any initiative that will assist students into tertiary education in the Hawke's Bay region," Mr Guha said.

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Thanks to SIT's Zero Fees Scheme its roll quadrupled, making it the sixth-largest government Institute of Technology/Polytechnic in New Zealand. Mr Guha was also deputy chief executive of SIT's corporate division, instrumental in setting up the Queenstown Campus and responsible for overseas marketing. SIT now has 1200 international students.

The Singapore-born Otago University graduate was once an international student himself and was keen to grow FutureCOL's roll with foreign and domestic students.

Attending Wednesday's announcement of the free programmes was his friend and colleague Giri Gupta. The Auckland businessman is chairman of the India Trade Alliance, which fosters increased trade between the two countries.

Mr Guha said although it was only his fifth week as FutureCOL CEO, "I feel I am not moving fast enough" and is considering adding courses in agribusiness.