Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland has had a Commissioner appointed to address its financial difficulties.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today that he was dissolving the Unitec Council and appointing Murray Strong as Commissioner due to the institute's need for urgent and significant financial support.

Hipkins said Unitec is facing a shortfall of about $19 million this year, and $27m in 2019, if no changes are made.

"I believe that a Commissioner is needed to ensure both the Tertiary Education Commission and I have the oversight we need," Hipkins said.


Strong is also the Government-appointed Crown Manager at Tai Poutini Polytechnic on the South Island's West Coast.

"Murray Strong is extremely experienced in working with tertiary organisations. As well as his role with Tai Poutini Polytechnic, he was the Commissioner appointed to the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki when it needed one in 2006," Hipkins said.

"His experience will be crucial to turning around Unitec's financial situation and putting it on a sustainable path.

"He's already playing a major role in the Government's ITP 2020 road map project, which will ensure a sustainable and thriving network of institutions of technology and polytechnics around the country.

"This should give real confidence to students at staff about Unitec's future."

The Commissioner is one option the Government is considering to address Unitec's financial issues.

Strong will initially be supported by an independent financial adviser, who is already in place.

An advisory group will be appointed by the Minister once the commissioner has identified the skills and experience needed to support him in exercising his functions, duties and powers.


"Our message for students at this time is that the Government is committed to ensuring top quality vocational education and training is available at Unitec now and in the future," Hipkins said.