Ara to create South Canterbury health training hub

News News & events

09 Jun 2017

Ara Institute of Canterbury will create a health training hub in South Canterbury, by offering more programmes and more pathways in health.

Ara will add the Bachelor of Nursing to existing health related programmes next year.

Bachelor of Nursing students based in Timaru will start studying with Ara rather than Otago Polytechnic from 2018, the institutes have announced.

From July, Ara will begin enrolling new Bachelor of Nursing students to study at its Timaru Campus in 2018. Ara currently offers pre-health and midwifery qualifications and placement for medical imaging in Timaru. The inclusion of nursing will help to create a "health training hub" in the South Canterbury region, Acting Head of Nursing at Ara Lisa McKay said.

“Both Ara and Otago Polytechnic have excellent nursing schools with some of the highest completion and employment rates in the country. By working together we can optimise the opportunities for Timaru-based nursing students.”

In the agreement, the 31 (Equivalent Fulltime) current Timaru-based Bachelor of Nursing students will study from Ara’s facilities, but will continue their enrolment through Otago Polytechnic until they graduate in two years’ time. Otago Polytechnic will withdraw from the delivery of the Bachelor of Nursing in Timaru once all students have successfully completed their programme.

Timaru-based nursing lecturers, one full time and one part time, have been offered the opportunity to transfer from Otago Polytechnic to be employed by Ara. They will continue to teach the current Otago Polytechnic nursing students until their graduation.

Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive, Phil Ker, said it’s important that current Timaru Bachelor of Nursing students will complete their qualification and graduate from Otago Polytechnic.

“Otago Polytechnic’s focus is to ensure our students continue to receive the best education through this transition. We have been working closely with Ara to make it a seamless change. Otago Polytechnic’s Nursing programme continues to be offered in Dunedin and attracts students from all over the country,” Mr Ker said.

The South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) welcomed the move. Ara and Otago Polytechnic both work closely with the DHB, which will continue to ensure that Timaru-based students from both institutes have access to work placements, graduate programmes and employment opportunities.

“This training hub will ensure we attract high quality nursing graduates and promotes our DHB as an exceptional place to start a career in health,” Lisa Blackler, Director Patient, Nursing and Midwifery, South Canterbury DHB, said. “It builds on the work begun by Otago and having a locally-based option will further assist in this promotion.  

“Beginning one’s career at South Canterbury DHB exposes you to fantastic hands-on clinical scenarios that you may not experience at the larger DHBs. This truly ensures our nursing staff have a wide scope of skills which impacts immensely on growing our nursing calibre. And with such a strong foundation here, we look to retain highly skilled staff who can boomerang internationally in the hope they bring new ideas and innovations and return to South Canterbury,” Blackler said.

Ara will also boost its current Certificate in Study and Career Preparation to level 4 from July 2017 to provide opportunities for potential nursing students in Timaru to pathway to the degree qualification.

For more information about Ara health sector training go to