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Southern Institute of Technology

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Southern Institute of Technology

Southern Institute of Technology
Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Murihiku
Established 1971
President Penny Simmonds
Academic staff 387 FTE 2005
Students 4408 (2012) ([1])
Location Invercargill, New Zealand
Affiliations Public NZ TEI
SIT, taken from Tay St
SIT main walkway
Grounds at SIT Main Campus (Tayi St, Invercargill)

Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Murihiku) is one of New Zealand’s largest institutes of technology, with over 12,000 students in 2011 .

Established in 1971, SIT has since become famous for its Zero Fees Scheme. The scheme, which is open to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, sees students save thousands of dollars on the cost of their tertiary education. The Institute is also renowned for the quality of its facilities and equipment.

SIT’s three main campuses are located in Invercargill with other campuses located in Queenstown, Gore and Christchurch. Students can study from anywhere in New Zealand and the world via SIT’s distance education faculty, SIT2LRN.

SIT offers over 160 programmes in a wide range of academic, technical and professional subjects at postgraduate, graduate, bachelor, diploma and certificate levels. SIT is a member of the International Association of Universities.


SIT has several campuses around Invercargill as well as campuses in Gore, Queenstown, and Christchurch.


SIT has three campuses in Invercargill. SIT’s main campus is situated either side of Tay Street. SIT Downtown is situated in the centre of Invercargill’s business district and is home to SIT’s new media and arts programmes. SIT Sound in the Invercargill Radio Network Building is host to SIT’s audio production programmes. Its location encourages the development of links with the region’s radio and broadcast industry.

SIT has undertaken a major campus redevelopment plan over the past fifteen years. This includes the completion of new classrooms, development of the SIT Library complex which includes the Literacy and Numeracy Resource Centre and Teaching and Development Support Unit, and the redevelopment of the Student Services area.

In 2012, SIT completed a $5.5 million redevelopment of the trades and technology teaching and learning areas which included a new Industry Training Centre. 2012 also saw the redevelopment of the School of Nursing, which included the addition of a new multi-million dollar Nursing Simulation Centre and the refurbishment of related facilities.


The Gore campus has up-to-date facilities and provides a base for the Institute to deliver education and training to the catchment areas of Eastern Southland, Northern Southland and West Otago.


The Queenstown campus operates from a new facility in the Remarkables Park retail and commercial development area in Frankton. The campus has responded to local needs offering business, administration, computing, hospitality, tourism, sports, beauty therapy and hairdressing programmes.


SIT’s Christchurch campus is based in Hornby. The campus offers specialised training in a number of areas including carpentry, electrical, refrigeration and air conditioning, roofing, automotive, sports, and mental health support.

Zero Fees Scheme

SIT is famed for its Zero Fees Scheme where New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are only required to pay material costs and not tuition fees.[1] The scheme has been credited with revitalising Invercargill after it attracted thousands of students south. The Zero Fees Scheme has also been extended to international students, in the form of Zero Fees English and Foundation Scholarships.[2]

Savings for students

The Zero Fees Scheme delivers significant savings for students who study at SIT compared with other tertiary institutions. Since students need only pay for their material costs, many students graduate debt free. Students can save between NZ$7,000 to $14,000 on the cost of their Bachelor degrees.[3]

Background to the Zero Fees Scheme

The scheme was initiated in an attempt to jumpstart Invercargill’s economy. In the late 1990s, Invercargill was suffering from job losses, closing businesses and a declining population. In an attempt to reverse this situation, and attract more young people to the city, the Zero Fees Scheme was implemented.

The scheme saw community funders contribute $7.2 million over three years to effectively pay students’ tuition fees. All students had to pay was their material costs – for things like uniforms or textbooks. The expected boost in the student population meant that, after that time – with more government funding for the extra equivalent full-time students – the scheme would become self-funding.

Economic impact

During the first year of the scheme, SIT needed to attract 40 per cent more students in order for it to be viable. Economic forecasts suggested that, should the scheme succeed, during the first year alone Invercargill would enjoy an extra $11.5 million in business turnover, while the city’s GDP would increase by $6.7 million. Overall, the regional economy would get a $19 million boost after the first year and up to $30 million by the end of the third.

Reality proved even better. Far more students took up the offer than anticipated, they spent more money and many were older. They moved from up north and brought their spouses and children south with them. The 46 per cent increase in numbers saw the roll leap from 1781 equivalent full-time students in 2000 to almost 2600 in 2001. There was $25 million additional business turnover, $13.9 million increase in the city’s GDP and the number of full-time equivalent jobs rose to 266, more than double the anticipated 113.

Over a decade on, SIT continues to offer the Zero Fees Scheme to over 12,000 students in Invercargill and beyond. By 2010, SIT’s total economic impact was estimated to be in excess of $210 million. Southland’s regional economy was estimated to be $118 million and 734 full-time equivalent jobs better off thanks to SIT’s direct spending and spending by its staff and students.

Zero Fees for international students

The success of the Zero Fees scheme has meant SIT has been able to keep fees for international students low. The Zero Fees Scheme has even been extended to international students, in the form of the Zero Fees English and Zero Fees Foundation Studies programmes. These programmes allow international students to study English or Foundation programmes for free when they subsequently enrol in a one year or longer mainstream academic programme.

SIT2LRN Distance Education Faculty

In 2003, two years after the launch of the Zero Fees Scheme, SIT launched its flexible mixed mode delivery (or distance education) faculty, SIT2LRN. SIT2LRN was made possible through a partnership with Southland TV (now CUE TV) where SIT could use television and internet technology to provide distance learning. Initially, SIT offered just one academic qualification – a Diploma in Tourism and Hotel Management – and attracted an online student body of just 22. By 2012, SIT2LRN offered over 30 different programmes in a range of subject areas.

SIT2LRN is particularly popular with students across New Zealand and the world who juggle work and family commitments and who can’t or don’t wish to study full-time. SIT2LRN is also popular with students who wish to go onto higher level programmes delivered on SIT campuses.

SIT2LRN's iTunesU Success

In 2008, SIT became the second tertiary institute in New Zealand, the eighth in Australasia and the southern-most in the world, to join Apple’s iTunesU project where people can download educational videos for free. Within a year SIT had surpassed world renowned universities Cambridge, Oxford and Stanford to top the worldwide list of most popular education downloads on iTunesU, with its “Intensive English” series being number one for six months.

SIT was the first organisation outside the United States and United Kingdom to take the top spot and, at the time, was attracting more than 170,000 visitors a week from more than 100 countries. It recorded its two millionth download in November 2010 and Apple, the owner of iTunesU, was using SIT as an example of how a small institute could achieve so much on the educational world stage.


SIT offers over 160 programmes from pre-degree to postgraduate level.[4]


SIT offers postgraduate academic programmes in the following subject areas:

  • Business Enterprise
  • Health Science
  • Information Technology

Graduate Diplomas

Graduate academic programmes are offered in the following subject areas:

  • Accounting
  • Audio Production
  • Contemporary Music
  • Digital Media (3D Animation)
  • Digital Media (Digital Filmmaking)
  • Dramatic Arts
  • Environmental Management
  • Information Technology
  • Management
  • Professional Accounting
  • Sport and Exercise

Bachelor Degrees

SIT offers twelve Bachelor degree qualifications in:

  • Applied Media Arts (Visual Media)
  • Audio Production
  • Commerce
  • Contemporary Music
  • Digital Media
  • Environmental Management
  • Fashion (Design and Technology)
  • Hotel Management
  • Information Technology
  • Nursing
  • Sport and Exercise
  • Therapeutic and Sports Massage

Certificates and Diplomas

Undergraduate academic programs are offered in the following subject areas:

  • Animal Health and Applied Life Sciences
  • Architectural Technology
  • Audio Production
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Business and Commerce
  • Construction, Carpentry and Joinery
  • Contemporary Music
  • Design and Visual Arts
  • Dramatic Arts
  • Digital Media (Animation and Filmmaking)
  • Electrotechnology
  • Environmental Management
  • Fashion Design
  • Hairdressing, Beauty and Pharmacy
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Hotel and Tourism Management
  • Information Technology and Computing
  • Journalism
  • Languages (English and Maori)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nursing
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Renewable Energy
  • Social Services
  • Sport, Exercise and Recreation
  • Therapeutic and Sports Massage
  • Veterinary Nursing
  • Vocational Preparation and Teaching

SIT is accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Student services

SIT provides a range of support services to students including:

  • Academic workshops
  • Chaplaincy
  • Childcare centre
  • Counselling services
  • Course advice
  • Disability liaison service
  • Employment assistance
  • Health centre
  • Learning assistance
  • Native speaker support
  • Pasifika student support
  • Peer tutoring
  • Prayer room
  • Student activities
  • Tauira Tautoko (Māori student support)

International students can also access a 24/7 free-to-call emergency helpline and gain assistance with their student visas.

Facilities and equipment

SIT is renowned for the quality and nature of its facilities and equipment, with many programmes boasting industry-leading products.

The School of Hospitality has two modern, commercial training kitchens that can fit up to 20 students each. Each kitchen is equipped with full equipment for each workstation, including six burner gas hobs and convection or gas ovens. The Bungalow Restaurant is an onsite restaurant which is used for training and theory as well as practice restaurant service operations open to the public throughout the year. Café and Bar service students also operate from the Bungalow Restaurant. The Vault Café is used as a real life training environment where students prepare and present food and coffee to the public on a regular basis throughout the year.

SIT Research Institute

SIT runs an applied research programme designed to support the development of its community and New Zealand industry. The SIT Research Institute is an organisation which works across the faculties and schools to support and promote staff research at SIT, as well as carrying out research in collaboration with local and regional partners.

Since 2010 the SIT Research Institute has been involved in a number of local and national research projects including research projects with Water Safety New Zealand and Sport Southland to support safe swimming practices and with the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of Otago and Our Way Southland to strengthen parenting in the region. The SIT Research Institute also led The Committed Learners Project, a collaborative research project with other New Zealand Institutes of Technology that identified practices to foster student engagement.[5]

SIT Journal of Applied Research

The Southern Institute of Technology Journal of Applied Research (SITJAR) is an online journal that specialises in applied research in the vocational and educational sector.[6] SITJAR is a double-blind, peer refereed journal, that is freely accessible. Papers are published continuously rather than in editions or volumes. The journal seeks original material in any field of applied research related to vocational education and training and is aimed at practitioners, academics and researchers.

The focus of the journal is on applied rather than pure research concerning any aspect of the vocational education and training (VET) sector. Thus topic areas might include: administration and management; teaching and learning; curriculum development; new technologies; policy; place and role of the VET sector; innovations; and discipline-specific research. The journal aims to provide a place for researchers to publish high quality research that can be accessed quickly and easily by people who might want to use the findings in a timely manner.

Industry and community links

Industry links

Since its establishment, SIT has sought to continually respond to industry needs by developing a broad range of programmes - foundation, trades, technical and applied professional qualifications - along with applied niche programmes and flexible mixed mode delivery.

SIT offers a range of learning modes designed to meet the diverse training and learning needs of a broad range of people. These include full-time and part-time, flexible mixed mode delivery, workplace locations (including work place training and assessments), apprenticeship schemes (managed and modern), multi site arrangements with secondary schools and articulations. Many courses have work experience components and practicums which give students the opportunity to experience a “real life” working environment.

All SIT programme areas are supported by regional business and industry through Advisory Committees operating through each Faculty. Industry participation on these Advisory Committees help ensure that SIT programmes equip students with the relevant skills and knowledge they need for a variety of industry, business and professional settings.

Community links

SIT has developed links with a range of community organisations, including local councils, iwi, trusts, government agencie, businesses and other organisations. SIT worked with the Community Trust of Southland, the Invercargill Licensing Trust, the Invercargill City Council, the Southland District Council and many Southland businesses to launch the Zero Fees Scheme as well as subsequent initiatives. SIT has active relationships with Venture Southland, the region’s economic development agency, and the Southland Chamber of Commerce.

SIT has sponsored and supported numerous Southland community organisations, such as Rugby Southland, Netball Southland, Basketball Southland, Southland Art Foundation, Southland Artist in Residence, Southland Museum and Art Gallery as well as Southland’s national motor-racing champion and Southland’s Olympic representatives and Paralympic medal winner.

SIT provides SIT Centrestage for the benefit of the Southland Arts community. This includes the provision of weekly music and drama performances in the theatre by SIT students, and the annual Kids’ Concert for approximately 2,500 children.

SIT helped secure the Southland filming of Robert Sarkies film Two Little Boys, Claire Kelly’s The Jub Jub Bird and the joint New Zealand–Denmark produced Weight of Elephants, in which SIT film students gained valuable work experience and subsequent employment in the industry. In 2010, SIT hosted the University Games for the first time in Southland. In 2011, SIT gifted the use of the SIT Arcade in Invercargill’s central business district as the venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Fan Zone in Southland.


SIT is committed to the internationalisation of its campuses and programmes. In addition to embedding international contexts within relevant programme curricula, SIT prepares students to work in a global market, including through opportunities for students to study abroad.

SIT hosts a rapidly growing number of international students. SIT's international strategy was adopted as an explicit attempt to address labour shortages in Southland. In 2012, over 626 students from 42 different countries around the world studied at SIT.[7] SIT also has a cosmopolitan staff, with an eighth of its staff in 2012 hailing from overseas.

SIT has a number of international partnerships and is a member of the International Association of Universities.

Student accommodation

SIT has one hall of residence, the Grand Hall of Residence, a former hotel, catering for around 80 students. SIT also offers accommodation, primarily for international students, at the SIT Apartments.[8] LivingSpace at The Tower is purpose-built student accommodation, and homestay is available for international students.[9]


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External links

  • The Southern Institute of Technology

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