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Outsource of English course 'quite usual'

Last updated 05:00 21/03/2013

LAUREN HAYES

Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds has defended the outsourcing of English language courses at the polytech from next month, which has resulted in redundancies.

Ms Simmonds this week confirmed Southland Times reports that the courses, previously taught within the polytechnic, will be outsourced to a Queenstown-based company.

Ms Simmonds said many New Zealand institutions were switching to specialist providers for English language tuition. "It's quite usual throughout the country. We would be one of the last in the country to have done it."

The SIT English language courses would be taught in Invercargill by the Southern Lakes English College from April 8.

Southern Lakes principal Blaise Barham said he was excited about working with SIT in Invercargill, after a partnership with the polytechnic in Queenstown.

The college would initially need four teaching positions in Invercargill, and was contacting redundant staff who had signalled they would be interested in working with the company, he said.

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Tertiary Education Union organiser Kris Smith said this month that the union had been working with about seven staff at the SIT English Language Institute affected by the outsourcing and was concerned students would also suffer from the decision.

Often when courses were outsourced the quality of the teaching weakened as time went on, she said.

Ms Simmonds also confirmed yesterday that deputy chief executive Julian Galt had resigned, but he had accepted an open-ended contract to continue working at SIT. "There's no end date and I would hope that it will be ongoing for a long time. We are very pleased to have retained his services."

Mr Galt's resignation had prompted Ms Simmonds to undertake a management review, during which three positions were disestablished, she said.

Mr Galt's vacated academic manager role was disestablished, as were the roles of Invercargill international manager and the Christchurch campus manager, which resulted in two redundancies.

Eight new management roles at SITs Christchurch and Invercargill campuses were created by the review, including a social media manager and a marketing manager to oversee both the international and marketing departments, she said.

The review was not spurred by an External Evaluation Review report, which was looking "quite positive", she said. This is despite The Southland Times understanding that the report is not favourable to the polytech.

The polytechnic was working through the report, which was conducted about eight months ago, with NZQA in a completely normal process, Ms Simmonds said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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