SDG 1 - No Poverty
Humanitarian Engineering Tackling Poverty
UC’s Global Humanitarian Engineering programme combines multiple disciplines, such as history, anthropology, Māori studies, and sociology, as well as rigorous engineering basics, to address improving the lives of disadvantaged people and under-served communities. The programme’s intention is to provide students with the opportunity to develop beyond their core engineering degree, to better understand the communities, cultures and societies in which engineering occurs.
“If engineers can better understand the appropriate technologies they work on, the social and environmental sustainability of the engineering projects, then ideally that will improve, and sustain, the economic and educational opportunities of people and communities”, says Dr Matthew Hughes, Programme Co-Director.
Capstone projects for 2020 involved students focusing on a social vulnerability assessment of communities including a Marae exposed to flood waters in Wellington, and designing a micro hydro-electric generation system for isolated communities in Nepal. More than 30 students have completed the diploma since 2017.
UCSA Support for Students
The University of Canterbury’s Student Association (UCSA) provides a number welfare options (food, medical, travel, accommodation) to support both domestic and international students in times of financial difficulty. For students experiencing temporary financial hardship for something unforeseen or unexpected there is the Hardship Grant. The Mickle Fund Loan is for students unable to pursue their studies or seriously constrained in doing so. The Medical Prescription Grant provides financial support for unexpected medical expenses, for short-term emergency support.
Child Well-being Research Institute
Health, well-being, development and education of children and young people are at the core of UC’s Child Well-being Research Institute. The Institute advances high quality, multidisciplinary research to enhance the healthy wellbeing and learning success of infants, children and adolescents within the context of their whānau, family and community, particularly the needs of Māori and Pasifika communities. Its research supports the Government’s aspirations, strategy and measuring of success for the children and youth of Aotearoa.
Support for Students Impacted by COVID-19
UC students affected by the pressures of COVID-19 during 2020 were offered an array of support and assistance, from welfare checks, pastoral care, IT support, scholarship/stipend extensions, to a unique fund related to COVID-19 financial hardship. Other assistance included the Foodbank and longer term Food Support Service. Advisors in Te Waka Pākākano worked with our Māori, Pacific and Rainbow students to identify the appropriate support needed. Support Services made phone calls to 4,600 students during lockdown to personally check on their welfare, and about 150 students were offered direct pastoral care. IT provided over 90 students with access to hardware, and about 360 students were given advice/support to improve their internet connectivity.
The Postgraduate Research Office provided targeted support for postgraduate research students. Over 100 Doctoral Scholarship recipients, who had their research affected by the lockdown, were provided up to two months scholarship extensions (stipends and fees). An additional grant was available to doctoral students experiencing hardship, and bursary funds provided financial support to 54 students experiencing hardship, as a result of COVID-19. A new scholarship policy was introduced for doctoral and research masters students, who received a one month fees free extension to their thesis submission date.
New Fund to Support Students
UC Foundation launched a new fund in 2020 specifically to support students suffering hardship or challenges that made it difficult for them to continue or return to their studies during the COVID-19 environment. The new support fund, Kono Iti, could be used by students in different ways, such as with transport, books, additional expenses associated with vulnerable or immune-compromised students or family, extra energy costs or other special needs caused by the extraordinary environment faced. In addition, the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, together with all members of UC Council, volunteered a 20% pay reduction for six months, which went towards funding to support students experiencing hardship.