Otago Polytechnic accused of misleading international students

Otago Polytechnic Instagram advertisement.

Otago Polytechnic has come under fire for a recent Instagram advertisement, with some accusing it of promising a ‘dubious’ path to NZ residency.

According to Mandeep Bela, president of the Union Network of Migrants, the advertisement promises something that cannot be guaranteed – a pathway to the ever-changing Long Term Skill Shortage LTSSL) occupation list.

What is the Long Term Skill Shortage List?

As NZ immigrants know all too well, this list is consistently updated by the Government, to identify occupations where there is a “sustained and on-going shortage of highly skilled workers, both globally and throughout New Zealand.”

Migrants whose occupation is on the LTSSL (and meet the requirements) may be granted a Work to Residence visa under the LTSSL work visa, with an opportunity to apply for residence in just two years. It’s an attractive prospect for migrants on temporary visas, and overseas students looking for ways to live in Aotearoa permanently.

However, there’s no guarantee that a certain occupation will continue to be on the list in the future, which means students may pay thousands of dollars only to find themselves back to ‘square one’.

What’s more, according to complainants, Otago Polytechnic’s advertisement promoted a Level 6 quantity surveyor qualification, even though the qualification itself doesn’t meet current long-term skill shortage requirements.

What does Otago Polytechnic have to say?

In an interview with, a Otago Polytechnic spokesperson rejected the claim.

“The intention of the advertisement was to highlight that quantity surveying is in the Long Term Skill Shortage List, as well as to let people know that there are scholarships available for the level six diploma, a pathway programme from which a career in quantity surveying may be built.”

But migrant advocates are not convinced, with one replying that the advertisement would be dubious even if that was the case.

“To anyone that says this diploma is on the long-term skill shortage list, I would say what relevance is that today if it’s going to take this youngster three years to complete it?” Immagine​ immigration adviser ​Iain MacLeod told Stuff.

A serial offender?

It’s not the first time that Otago Polytechnic comes under scrutiny for controversial advertising. In 2019, their campaign to get women into trades caused a stir, with some sociologists and marketing experts calling it ‘provocative’, ‘inappropriate’, and ‘demoralising’ for women.

The ad used neon pink strip club imagery, combined with the copy “Hiring now: GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS. Think construction.” Despite the backlash, the campaign attracted dozens of applications.

Otago Polytechnic 2019 campaign.