Fri 24 Nov 2017

WITT forecasts show both successes and challenges

WITT has updated its financial projections for 2017 which show that mainly due to a decrease in demand for qualifications in the region, the tertiary education provider is facing a $2.4m deficit, and will experience ongoing fiscal pressures in the 2018 year.

The institution has echoed nationwide trends in enrolment numbers, which has seen a softening of both domestic and international student numbers of around 22 percent. International student numbers, in particular, were hard hit, down by 23% over 2016 numbers, also a trend being seen across the country. While the levels of enrolments for 2018 are encouraging, the details and implications of the incoming government’s fees free policy on enrolments remain unknown.

WITT Council has engaged an independent advisor, Dr Neil Barns, to make sure the institute is doing all it can to deliver performance improvement and mitigate costs, though a likely outcome will be a reduction in programmes with insufficient demand, with a possible impact on staff numbers. WITT is working with staff and the TIASA and TEU unions in assessing what reduced demand will mean for staff and students.

“Like any sector, education and particularly international education is subject to demand fluctuations. WITT is currently facing a downward cycle in demand, a trend that reflects the high employment rate and is supported by evidence from similar institutions around New Zealand” said WITT Council Chair Robin Brockie.

“The impact of this reduced demand is a short-term deficit and a need for the institution to take very careful and considered action to ensure it can balance the 2018 budgets, based on projected enrolments and funding.”

“Efforts will continue to significantly reduce expenditure, and will be supported by a review of offered programmes to ensure they meet demand.” 

“I remain confident we are shaping an organisation that is increasingly meeting our region’s needs. While there is further work to be done, this work will see better learning, investment and financial outcomes than ever before.”