An air of uncertainty hangs over a massive overhaul of NZ polytechnics - including Hawke's Bay-based EIT.

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins announced yesterday wide-sweeping changes through the Reform of Vocational Education (ROVE) project.

At the heart of the proposed changes, is the aim to unify the sector.

The new entity has a working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology, and would incorporate all of the country's 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).


"It's time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it's delivered," Hipkins said.

"The Coalition Government proposes to establish a unified, co-ordinated, national system of vocational education and training.

"At a time when we're facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke."

EIT Deputy Chief Executive, Mark Oldershaw said while it is a "potentially unsettling time" for some staff, he aimed to ensure staff and students were kept well informed around the reform process.

"EIT will continue as strongly as it can possibly be in its education delivery across all of its campuses.

"EIT is a sound and strong institution and a key regional educational leader with a reputation at the national level as a leading tertiary education provider."

Oldershaw said a continued strong presence in tertiary education was essential for the regions of Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti.

"For any reform process to be successful, a continued strong regional presence and ability to influence and shape decisions at a regional level are really important. EIT has a long standing reputation as a high performer. We have had a good reputation as a sound financial institute of technology with solid academic results."

In 2018, the institute's student numbers grew by 10 per cent, Oldershaw said.

"There were over 10,000 students, which equated to 4820 equivalent fulltime students, the largest student roll in the institute's history."

"At this stage, it is too early to comment on the full impact of the proposal. While still early in the year, the forecast for 2019 looks strong with the latest enrolment numbers tracking ahead of last year."

The Government's consultation phase for the ROVE project closes on March 27 - a six-week period.