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Graduate Diploma in Information Technology - GradDipIT

Axcel's flagship course is the Graduate Diploma in Information Technology (GradDipIT), a degree-level qualification which gives students the qualifications and practical experience they need to launch them into a successful career. The GradDipIT was conceived by Chris Mitchell while he was working at the New Zealand Trade Development Board to help New Zealand software and other technology companies gain access to international markets. It addresses what remains a major issue for companies, the shortage of skilled, experienced IT workers.

Catch 22

In addition to not knowing how well new graduates would adapt to a real commercial environment, employers faced the risk that once they had invested time and money in training graduates, the graduates would depart for a more highly paid position. Recent technology graduates on their part were finding that even after three or four years of study they were still unable to get an IT job, despite hearing reports of shortages. It was a classic Catch 22: how can I get a job without experience, and how can I get experience without a job?

The GradDipIT Solution

The real point of difference between the GradDipIT and other IT qualifications is that in the third trimester students work on a real project with a local Axcel industry partner firm. This allows employers to “try before they buy” in that they can see how the student performs and how well they fit into the company culture. On the student's part, they get on-the-job practical experience and are given an opportunity to make themselves indispensable!

Technology skills are only one factor in the equation. The GradDipIT also equips graduates with an ability to adapt and continuously learn, plus the social and communication skills that are indispensable to being a successful employee. The GradDipIT model is based on the well-developed ‘work integrated learning’ or cooperative education model.


The GradDipIT Evolution

The GradDipIT was initially delivered from 2002 at the Information Technology Institute (ITI), a company set up specifically for that purpose. Classes were held in three campuses located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. With huge support from key industry leaders and approval and support from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the course proved extremely successful, with graduates winning placements with some of New Zealand’s leading IT firms.

Despite the success of the programme, the business model was flawed and ITI closed its doors on Christmas Eve 2003.  ITI was unable to carry the increasing compliance and infrastructure costs in this highly regulated environment with only one programme to absorb the total costs.  

The political environment also changed at that time from one which was encouraging of new and innovative programme to address the skills shortage to an environment that considered there were too many private providers and that students should enrol in the state owned ITPs and Universities. 

The closure, although painful at the time was a blessing in disguise.  Being forced to close just two years after starting, opened up the opportunity to apply a different and sustainable business model. The rights to the GradDipIT were sold to Axcel Institute, and at the same time the delivery model for the GradDipIT was changed to one in which established tertiary institutions are licensed to deliver the programme in addition to their own academic programmes.

From 2004 to 2011, this NZQA Level 7 graduate diploma was delivered through another private provider under a licence agreement with Axcel Institute.

In 2008 an e-learning portal was developed which effectively integrated learning of all subjects into a powerful tool for students and staff.

In 2012 the programme was fully revised and updated with new specialisations being offered. Specialisations cater for those students who have prior qualification or experience in ICT and enable students to develop more specific skills in their areas of interest. The standard course (without specialisation) is still available to those with no prior ICT qualifications or experience.

In 2012 an agreement in principle was reached with Nltec Tertiary Group ( )  and three years later in 2015 after further extensive revisions and resubmissions to NZQA for re-approval under new criteria, an exclusive licence agreement was signed with the first cohort of students enrolling in July 2015. The programme is now operating very successfully at Ntec, within the Aspire2 Group of Companies.


Axcel Institute is committed to ensuring GradDipIT remains at the leading edge of IT learning and remains relevant to the fast changing needs of the business world and continues to work with Ntec to ensure that the programme delivers on its promises.

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