Ara leads polytechnic sector - top ranking in NZQA report

News News & events

17 Feb 2017

Ara Institute of Canterbury has achieved the highest ranking in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) report released today (17 February), putting the new institute at the top of the nation’s polytechnic sector.

The External Evaluation Review (EER) is conducted every four years to assess tertiary education providers’ educational performance and self-assessment. Ara was awarded the sought-after Highly Confident ranking in both categories. The evaluation was conducted during 18 to 27 October 2016.

Ara Chief Executive Kay Giles said that collaborating with industry and community was the key to the success of the institute. “Our partners help us ensure that our graduates have developed the right skills for employment. They give us feedback through our advisory boards and provide opportunities for students to complete work placements and workplace-related research projects.”

“This outstanding EER result reflects the work of our industry and community partners as well as our dedicated staff.”

The report noted the institution’s integrity and engagement with the region. “There is strong engagement with key stakeholders including industry, the community, staff and students, and clear evidence that feedback is responded to, to better match needs and strengthen valued outcomes.”

“Industry and community engagement is strong at all levels of the organisation,” the report stated.

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce congratulates Ara on this significant accomplishment,” Peter Townsend, CEO Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce said. “We have worked very closely with Ara on a number of fronts over recent years and applaud the way they have constructively interacted with the business sector to get the best possible outcomes for their students, and the wider community. We know how highly Ara is regarded in Canterbury and beyond, and this accolade is testament to that.”

The results were particularly pleasing following a period of change in which CPIT and Aoraki Polytechnic merged in January 2016 to create a new organisation, launched as Ara in March 2016.

“We were determined to minimise disruption to students and improve our systems while we worked to align the two organisations and to embed the best of both CPIT and Aoraki Polytechnic into a new entity. Our goal is to serve the tertiary training needs of the whole region and we remain focused on continuous improvement to achieve that,” Giles said.  

NZQA recognised that change had been well managed, stating; “A key feature of Ara has been the ability to successfully manage change over the past five years. Governance and management have shown strong ability to consult and plan and adapt to ensure resilience and sustainability. This includes rebuilding following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, sustaining and increasing enrolments, reviewing and refreshing the portfolio of programmes, and bringing together of Aoraki and CPIT into the new organisation that is Ara.”

The EER report also commended the institute’s high completion rates for both domestic and international students, the student-centered approach, excellent support for international students from enrolment to graduation, clear purpose, monitoring of programmes, and the focus on innovative learning.  

Other highlights of the 2017 EER report included:

  • Strong student achievement with 85% course completion rates from 2013 to 2015, putting CPIT/Ara in the top three polytechnics since 2012.
  • Strong processes in place at Ara to ensure students are consulted.
  • A student-centred approach; students understand the range of academic and pastoral care services available to them.
  • A multifaceted approach to supporting international students, coordinated across departments and services, from first enrolment to graduation.
  • Achievement for international students shows significant improvement, with course completion rates of 80 per cent in 2012, rising to 90 per cent in 2015.
  • Clear purpose and direction, monitored through key performance indicators and reports to the academic board and Council.
  • Innovative approaches to teaching and using real-world contexts to develop knowledge and skills.
  • Stronger research outputs.
  • Strategies to ensure learning is applied and integrated with work-based or simulated opportunities.
  • Better collection and reporting of achievement data.
  • Ongoing review and improvement.

Read the report here: The New Zealand Qualifications Authority - External Evaluation Review (EER)

Watch the video: Ara tops sector – NASDA graduate Asovale Luma interviews Kay Giles, Ara CE