Universal College of Learning

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Universal College of Learning (UCOL)
UCOL Manawatū MRD 01.jpg
Original Palmerston North Technical School building
Academic staff
210 (2018)
Students6,561 students (2018), 32% Maori, 57.5% students under 25, Students from 57 different countries
AffiliationsPublic NZ TEI

The Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is a New Zealand Government TEI (Polytechnic) located primarily in Palmerston North but has campuses also in Whanganui, Masterton and Levin.[1] Dr Linda Sissons is the current Acting Chief Executive.


UCOL was founded in 1907 and was known as the Palmerston North Technical School. In 1971 it became the Palmerston North Technical Institute and in 1983 the Manawatu Polytechnic. At the time it specialised in trade apprenticeship courses, and in hobby, art, and craft classes, along with a range of night school programmes in business studies for working adults.

As successive governments placed emphasis on vocational education, the Polytechnic broadened the courses offered but retained a focus on core vocational programmes. It now delivers Foundation and Certificate programmes, Diplomas, Degrees and Post-Graduate options in a range of subjects as well as community-based programmes.

In 1987 the Manawatǖ Polytechnic opened a small campus in Horowhenua, Levin and the 1996 approval by government of a $22 million capital injection, enabled the rebuilding and consolidation of the Manawatǖ campus onto a central city site.

In late 1998 the Manawatǖ Polytechnic changed its name to the Universal College of Learning (UCOL). UCOL expanded in January 2001 with the incorporation of the Masterton Regional Polytechnic and the integration of the Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic on 1 April 2002. On 1 April 2020, UCOL was subsumed into New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology alongside the 15 other Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs).[2]


There are four campuses: Palmerston North, Whanganui, Masterton and Levin.

Palmerston North campus facilities[edit]

Whanganui campus facilities[edit]

Masterton campus facilities[edit]

Strategic priorities[edit]

UCOL is focused on delivering the six priorities of the Tertiary Education Strategy 2014–2019.[3]

Relationships-based teaching[edit]

UCOL is the first to employ a relationships-based teaching approach in a tertiary education setting. Called Te Atakura,[4] the programme was developed with the support of education consultancy Cognition Education Limited[5] and Emeritus Professor Russell Bishop. It is designed to enhance Māori success, develop high performing teaching teams and provide ongoing support services for learners.[6]

Study offerings[edit]

UCOL offers over 100 programmes of study at certificate, diploma and degree level in the following subject areas:

In late 2016 UCOL secured funding from the Tertiary Education Commission's Refugee English Language Fund to give a limited number of eligible refugees the opportunity to study New Zealand Certificate in English at Level 3 or Level 4 free of charge.

Council awards[edit]

Each year UCOL recognises people in the community who have made significant contributions to their local areas and society in general, with the UCOL Council Honours Awards. In 2019 UCOL recognised the contribution of their graduates with their inaugural UCOL Alumni Awards.


  1. ^ "UCOL's official campus details website page". UCOL. UCOL.
  2. ^ Kenny, Lee (29 October 2019). "Wanted: 'Sophisticated' leader to head NZ's mega polytech". Stuff. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  3. ^ Zealand, Education in New. "Tertiary Education Strategy 2014 – 2019". Education in New Zealand. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Te Atakura". Universal College of Learning. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  5. ^ "We found the "glue" to work collaboratively | Cognition Education". cognitioneducation.com. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Enhancing educational outcomes – Ako Aotearoa". akoaotearoa.ac.nz. Retrieved 24 March 2017.

External links[edit]