Commissioner appointed at Whitireia and WelTec

Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin has confirmed the appointment of a Commissioner at Whitireia and WelTec.

The new Commissioner, Neil Barns has more than 30 years’ experience in tertiary education.

Dr Barns is a former Chief Executive of the Christchurch Polytech Institute of Technology and the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He was the interim Chief Executive of the newly formed Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in 2016, and a member of the Otago Polytechnic Council in 2017.

“Neil Barns brings highly-regarded leadership experience to this appointment.  He has worked with many tertiary institutions and government agencies on a range of international education projects, including, most recently, the ITP Roadmap 2020,” Tracey Martin said.

“His previous experience in the sector will be vital in addressing these polytechnics’ financial troubles,” Tracey Martin said.

Dr Barns will also be supported by an independent financial advisor, who is already in place.

An advisory group will be appointed by the Minister of Education once the Commissioner has identified the skills and experience he needs to support him.

Whitireia required urgent financial assistance of $15 million to ensure it could stay in operation beyond September and WelTec is operating in deficit and needs to borrow to ensure it can keep running this year.

“The Government is committed to ensuring top quality vocational education and training continues to be available at Whitirieia and WelTec, and for students at institutes of technology and polytechnics around the country,” Tracey Martin said.

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