While some providers are opposing the announcement that New Zealand polytechnics will be merged into one national campus, the central region's Universal College of Learning (UCOL) has welcomed the news.

UCOL chief executive Amanda Lynn said it looked forward to being a part of a strong national system.

"It is clear that Education Minister Chris Hipkins has listened to feedback during consultation and we are looking forward to participating in co-design and co-construction opportunities," she said.

"There are clear timeframes for a staged transition, providing some clarity for our staff and certainty for students."


Lynn said UCOL's distinctiveness as a region remained and there were no changes to regional boundaries, campuses or the UCOL brand.

"There are many positives, such as the establishment of Te Taumata Aronui, a Māori crown entity, as key partners, a focus on the expansion of provision rather than retrenchment, enhanced applied research opportunities, and continuation of programmes at certificate through to postgraduate level."

With total equity of $108 million, Lynn said UCOL was in a strong position.

"The minister has also confirmed that existing cash reserves will be ring-fenced for investment in the regions where the investment has been accumulated. That is good news."

However, Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie said the merger would be "devastating for our region".

"This is disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships.

"Local employers have told me they will cease to employ apprentices next year if apprentices go back to polytechnics. This is a big step backwards, especially when our construction sector is crying out for apprentices."

McKelvie said the Government had "brutally dismissed" the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training.


"The Government's 'we know best' attitude will mean the organising of apprentices will be taken from industry who know the needs of the Manawatu best and instead will be given to one mega polytechnic."

When Hipkins announced the merger last week, he said the changes would give industry greater control over all aspects of vocational education and training.

"No one thinks the status quo works well for New Zealanders. Except National, which tinkered around the edges and stood back while polytechnics struggled, the number of people in training dropped and skills shortages worsened.

"This Government was forced to step in and bail several polytechnics out with $100m, and we know without significant change, things will keep getting worse."

Hipkins said although there were some bright spots, the existing system was not set up to produce skilled people at the scale needed.