On 1st November, 2022, Southern Institute of Technology became part of Te Pukenga, The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology; SIT Queenstown Campus Development Manager, Nick Fifield, believes Queenstown stands to benefit from opportunities the merger will create.
Work is already underway to expand the campus footprint in its Remarkables Park location, with a further 150-square-metre space added for a new student and administration hub, due to be completed by Easter 2023. Mr Fifield said as well as supporting the new programmes on offer, the expansion will also help create a strong community space for SIT students and tutors.
Since his appointment in July 2021, Mr Fifield has focused on increasing the variety and number of programmes, and establishing the campus as a key stakeholder who provides the delivery of education for the benefit of Queenstown’s economic diversification strategy.
“As a smaller campus, we are now part of New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider, which means we can readily access any programme in the country, available at any other institution. This will not only increase the number of face-to-face programmes we can offer, but also “HyFlex” learning in which Queenstown-based students can join programmes where their [online] classmates are based around the country.”
Pre-Covid, the Queenstown Campus had a high proportion of international students studying Hotel Management, Cookery, Travel and Tourism, with the graduates then employed in local industry. Mr Fifield has worked for the past eighteen months to shift the educational focus to draw domestic students locally and nationally.
“International students will return but this will be gradual and not to the same extent as pre-Covid; Australia and Canada now offer more attractive visa opportunities to tempt international students away from New Zealand, so there needs to be a greater balance domestically,” Mr Fifield commented.
Adding to the highly successful roll-out of Environmental Management earlier this year, a range of programmes are being introduced which aim to directly serve the diverse needs of Queenstown, including: Applied Management, Audio Production and Creative Arts options.
IT Programmes are also expanding, an already established, key part of Queenstown’s diversification strategy, with Software Development, Programming and Cyber Security being added in 2023. “Web Development was well attended this year with 40% female attendance, bucking national industry trends”, Mr Fifield added.
Mr Fifield advised those interested in study should commit now. “I am really pleased with the addition of these programmes, which have been introduced on the basis of Queenstown’s ambitions to evolve and diversify, but we must demonstrate the demand is here if these programmes are to be successful and stay.”
He added this was where “the rubber hits the road”, around the talk of economic diversification.
“Unless we commit to changing how we view education as a tool for retaining and attracting talent and get behind it, it won’t happen. Queenstown is at a tipping point population wise - there is demand for many different programmes, but not always the numbers to get opportunities off the ground and sustain them all.”
SIT Queenstown Campus, which was established in 2009, will continue to offer the applied training they are already well-known for: cookery, hospitality, beauty therapy, and carpentry.