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UC Strategic Vision 2020-2030

Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora

21 July 2023

Our strategic vision for 2020 to 2030 sets the direction for UC to further increase our impact for good in the coming years, regionally and globally. Learn more about our strategy and plans.


The University of Canterbury has been making a difference in people’s lives and society for 150 years. 

UC's Strategic Vision 2020-2030

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Download UC's Strategic Vision

Our Vision & Mission

Since the inaugural address at the founding of the Canterbury Collegiate Union in 1872, this university has stood for accessible higher education, service to community, and the encouragement of talent without barriers of distance, wealth, class, gender or ethnicity.

This Strategy is a clear statement that the University continues to stand for these principles and explicitly aims to produce graduates who are engaged with their communities, empowered to act for good and determined to make a difference in the world.

An overarching driver of this Strategy is an institutional commitment to engagement. A university that commits itself to engagement undertakes to deploy its expertise and knowledge to advance civic purpose and to foster public good.

UC will continue to support staff who are engaged, empowered and making a difference, with the goal of increasing purposeful academic efforts to make a difference regionally and in the world. UC supports academic staff taking the role of critic and conscience of society and an active role in shaping Aotearoa New Zealand society.

The University affirms its identity as a medium-sized, research-intensive, comprehensive university. It strives to deliver excellent, research-informed education, and creative and innovative research.

Cultural Narrative

Henry John Tancred was the first Chancellor of the University of New Zealand (as University of Canterbury was first known). In his inaugural address launching the Canterbury Collegiate Union he propounded his view that the new college should be entirely inclusive:

“It is of the greatest importance to the well-being of the whole that this influence should be felt in every part and among all classes, that high as well as low, rich as well as poor, should have every opportunity afforded to them of cultivating and developing the higher faculties in such a manner as will fit them for occupying worthily the highest position in the State.”

– Henry John Tancred (1872)

Engagement – UC as an Engaged University

Key objectives to drive successful civic engagement and social sustainability:

  1. Increase our presence and impact in Ōtautahi Christchurch and Waitaha Canterbury.
  2. Partner with Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu to uphold the mana and aspirations of the mana whenua.
  3. Make a positive impact on social sustainability in Ōtautahi Christchurch and Waitaha Canterbury.
  4. Make a positive impact on hauora wellbeing of the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch and Waitaha Canterbury.
  5. Co-develop with our partners a research platform and commons to respond to identified needs, support city development and the wellbeing of all who live here.
  6. Retain and grow the diversity of talent in Ōtautahi Christchurch and Waitaha Canterbury.

Internationalisation – Locally Engaged, Globally Connected

Key objectives to drive successful internationalisation

  1. Develop UC’s global partnerships, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, to support research and teaching excellence.
  2. Expand the University’s educational services to students living offshore through a portfolio of Transnational Education (TNE) and online educational offerings.
  3. Expand the nationalities and cultures represented in our student body.
  4. Enhance the internationalisation of the curriculum and student experience.
  5. Promote understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand’s place in the world and its cultural distinctiveness, including Māori as Tangata Whenua and our responsibilities to Pacific nations.

Education – Accessible, Flexible, Future Focused

Key objectives to drive successful learning and teaching at UC:

  1. Stimulate and support academic development and innovation to become the best educators in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  2. Deliver a curriculum that prepares our students to be enquiring and enables them to create and contribute knowledge for a better society.
  3. Ensure students are provided with lifelong learning opportunities through flexible degree and delivery options to allow a UC education to respond to the current and future needs of work and society.
  4. Provide a learning environment that uses effective pedagogies, facilities, and learning technologies to support the needs of each generation of learners and employers.
  5. Continue to develop the UC Graduate Profile so that UC graduates are known for their bicultural competence and confidence, global understanding, community engagement, employability and innovative thinking.

Research – Impact in a Changing World

Key objectives to drive high-impact research:

  1. Develop and support transdisciplinary research to better impact local and global challenges.
  2. Improve the national and international research profile, reputation and ranking of the University.
  3. Increase and diversify funding sources for the University’s research portfolio including for research institutes, centres and clusters.
  4. Improve strategic localregional and international research collaborations to increase research impact.
  5. Provide, access and share “state of the art” research, equipment, facilities and e-infrastructure.

People - Nurturing Staff, Thriving Students

Key objectives which will support wellbeing and success are:

  1. Foster the UC ethos of excellence, relevance, impact and kotahitanga, and a culture of high ethical standards, collaboration, and innovation.
  2. Select, develop and reward talented staff including the next generation of outstanding Aotearoa New Zealand’s researchers and best educators.
  3. Develop and provide targeted interventions and a positive environment to support student success.
  4. Adopt the Te Pae Māhutonga wellbeing model to guide staff and student support and services.
  5. Create a diverse and inclusive community where all staff and students have a sense of belonging, building on our bicultural foundations.

Environmentally Sustainable

Key objectives to drive environmental sustainability are:

  1. Establish a carbon neutrality initiative to ensure that UC will be carbon net neutral by 2030.
  2. Ensure that UC research contributes to resolving global sustainability challenges.
  3. Weave opportunities for students to learn and contribute to resolving the Sustainable Development Goals through UC teaching.
  4. Measurably and substantially improve the environmental sustainability of UC
  5. Grow and leverage our localnational and global sustainability networks to bring new thinking to our challenge and to share our practice

Organisational Efficacy

Key objectives to achieve economic sustainability and effectiveness:

  1. Increase the economic impact of the University on the city and region.
  2. Grow and diversify revenue to become an economically sustainable university able to initiate new, high impact projects.
  3. Ensure that the University’s costs and funding mechanisms are efficient, simple and transparent.
  4. Simplify, automate and reduce business processes with a humanistic approach.
  5. Use technology and data in a responsibleethicaleffective and efficient way to enable and empower our people and communities.

Our Changing Context

The very nature of higher education, its delivery, relevance and impact as well as the role of universities in society is expected to change dramatically. Just as globalisation and technology have transformed all sectors of the economy in the past 25 years, in the decades to come, universities face significant transformation.

With massive diversification in the range of providers, methods and technologies delivering tertiary education worldwide, the assumptions underlying the traditional relationship between universities, students, and local and national economies are increasingly under great pressure. These pressures come from the changing world of learning, work and society, with the factors that affect our work broadly characterised in six key trends: the nature of knowledge, new ways of learning, geopolitics, social cohesion, sustainability, and the nature of work.

This strategy is designed to support UC’s responses to each of these trends. In doing so it has identified five ways to address these pressures effectively: refocusing UC on our academic mission; addressing issues using a communitarian approach; addressing problems head on with an inter-disciplinary focus; actively working on culture and behaviour to act as one university; and taking a decisive stand on sustainability.

Introduction from the
Now is the time to harness past experience and current strengths to be creative and innovative.

Professor Cheryl de la Rey
Tumu Whakarae

Message from the Chancellor
Building on this University’s strong global reputation, we are ready to strengthen our commitment and engagement with our region in the world for good.

Ms Sue McCormack
Tumu Kaunihera

Message from Ūpoko o Ngāi Tūāhuriri
Ngāi Tahu appreciate the core values that underpin the University of Canterbury the teaching of open contestable knowledge.

Dr Te Maire Tau
Ūpoko o Ngāi Tūāhuriri

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