Speaking in Southland last week, the recently crowned 2019 Innovator of the Year Ian Taylor said one of his main secrets to success is continuing to dream big – and his message is one we can relate to.

It was thanks to a dream to introduce a Zero Fees Scheme at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) that Southland’s reputation around the country, and rest of the world, started to grow.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Southland was struggling with a significant population decline and the introduction of SIT’s Zero Fees Scheme, which was embraced enthusiastically by Southland stakeholders, played a pivotal role in helping the city and wider region to turn this around.

As part of two SIT External Advisory Boards, I am able to see first-hand the impact the organisation has on both domestic and international learning, and the wide range of social and economic benefits the successful model generates in our communities.

It is extremely concerning to think how much the region could be adversely affected if the proposal to merge New Zealand’s 16 polytechnics and Institutes of Technology is successful.

In 2016 a perception study we ran found that the Zero Fees Scheme is the fourth most popular association to the Southland region, showing the essential, and prominent role SIT plays in our attraction and promotion strategies.

With the appeal of SIT enticing more and more international students to our region, we’re also witnessing increased diversity and vibrancy across our region. This helps strengthen local businesses, which benefit from both increased trade, and the skills graduating students bring to workplaces.

It is therefore important that we as a region highlight the impact this proposal could have on our region’s ability to thrive. We all want the success of the SIT model to continue, let’s hope we can convince the government to make it happen.

Kind regards, 

Paul Casson signature