Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Visiting 'AUT' OT School Auckland & an unlikely reunion!

Hello everybody! After enjoying yet more of my room mates snoring and unpleasant smell, I headed out (Tuesday), to visit one of the two OT Schools/Universities here in New Zealand. A short 15 minute bus ride from 'downtown' led to me to the North Shore district of Auckland. One of the things I enjoyed most about the bus ride was that there was a radio station playing songs on the bus... (apparently this is a relatively new thing), but I was singing along to the music, though I'm not sure my fellow passengers really appreciated my this. Nobody tipped me anyway!I got off the bus and headed to the AA block, where I was to find my host (Valerie), and some other staff members, who were keen to answer my questions about life Occupational Therapy education here in New Zealand.
I was really interested to find out about numbers of students, the different programmes on offer and cost implications for NZ OT students. I was informed that AUT generally graduates around 90 (approx numbers) each year with an approximate total number of 150 new graduates nationally across the country. The course is a 3 year Degree (same as UK), with an option of a non-funded 4th year Hons. Students are expected to part fund the cost of the course, by around $5000, though as is most countries, international students pay significantly more for their education. The University and the OT Board of NZ are able to monitor the success of the academic programmes by assessing new graduates against the seven areas of competency, upon completion of the course which allows registration to occur. AUT students spend up to a full semester (20 weeks) on placement in their final year, allowing the second year of study to focus on more theoretical aspects, linked in with outside lecturers / clinicians participating in the education process. There was a fantastic mix of staff experience and skill base and a friendly and welcoming feel around the campus, with plenty of green space around campus to relax in. The on-site 'Subway' sandwich shop was no bad thing either!I followed up this visit with a return to Auckland and the shock of finding yet more signs of Christmas! Why can't we be allowed to enjoy the present and not be encouraged to always be looking past tomorrow! Ok enough of a rant!My afternoon took a pleasant surprise twist as Sally called me and we headed to her gym, for a cuppa (cup of tea), and another chance to chat about life in NZ. two cups later, we said our goodbyes and Sally kindly dropped me off in town, where I was able to head to the Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe where I was to meet an old friend/work colleague.
Tony, a former colleague of mine from a Community Mental Health Team in Manchester, UK, was now here living in NZ, and right here in Auckland! We had last seen each other when I left that job back in 2007! Tony told me about his quite amazing journey that had brought him to NZ and how he'd been living in Christchurch, when the earthquake had struck earlier this year. his terrifying account, explained why he'd now moved up North, and whilst discussing the issues now surrounding the UK health service, I found myself feeling inspired by Tony's move and search for a better quality of life out here. Maybe this is a move I'll consider myself, because after a few beers and a fantastic meal, I could really begin to see the appeal of living in a country without a 'fear of menace' which I personally feel is evident in my life in the UK. The friendly and welcoming nature of people here is so evident here. Almost as important, is the non-existence of the company BT (British Telecom) to which both me and Tony (and many other people I know) would testify to being one of the most idiotic and incompetent companies I have had the dis-pleasure to deal with! Unfortunately no pictures were taken of this night, but I just want to wish Tony all the best in his adventures out here! It was a pleasure to catch up, funny how people's journey's cross in the most unlikely of places!

Regards from NZ


  1. Glad you have enjoyed Auckland... hope that you get to see more outside of the 'big city'...

    Oh.. students pay fees across all three years of their bachelors programme (with a government contribution).. the fourth year for our students at Otago Polytechnic is about the same fee for their fourth year as their first three years.

    Re competencies etc - the schools are responsible for ensuring that the students can achieve the required level of competence (our fieldwork assessment form is organised as per the 7 competencies). Once our new graduates start work, the OTBNZ through the online portfolio, supervisors comments and the third party signoff becomes responsible for ensuring safe competent practice of the graduates!

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