A human resources manager who spent ten years getting her commerce degree typifies the flexibility of part-time tertiary study, according to Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)'s Manager of Applied Business John Inglis.
Inglis, who manages the post graduate diplomas, the bachelor degree and under graduate diploma programmes in the Commerce department at NMIT, says increasing numbers of students aged from 18 to 60 are taking advantage of study options to increase skills and career prospects.
"A lot of people will chip away at a Bachelor of Commerce degree over four, five or six years and some take longer. Individuals can find their own balance between study and work", says Inglis, himself an NMIT graduate as well as a business owner.
"We design study plans like a staircase. You can step on and step off when it suits".
As well as the HR manager who did two or three papers a year, John Inglis cites the case of an office administrator who started studying part-time for a certificate, went on to a Diploma and ended up doing a double major in management and marketing over four years.
"We always get an interesting bunch, a lot of trainee accountants who chip away while they work and lots of people who've been working for a firm for years and suddenly realise they're in danger of getting left behind by new, younger graduates if they don't increase their skills and qualifications".
He says NMIT also has lots of women returning to part-time study after having children.
Many students do a mix of face to face and online study.
"We tailor it towards the learner and also the employer so we're not sucking their staff away all the time. Some classes may be from four to six in the evening so employees can get away and make up any lost time later".
NMIT Director of Marketing and International Development Virginia Watson says the NMIT programmes help professionals to stay current with industry trends and practices.
Other programmes that can be studied part-time include a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Supervision. "This is a professional development opportunity for managers who want to enhance and develop their way of working with people to successfully manage change and challenge in the workplace", says coordinating tutor Raewyn Laurenson.
Raewyn Laurenson has a Masters of Education with Honours in Counselling from the University of Auckland and spent 11 years running her own private counselling and coaching practice.
The postgraduate programme is one year part-time and has facilitated workshops for two days, six times a year.