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Universities band together to boost study of waterways

08 November 2022

Two Canterbury tertiary institutions have signed an agreement to run postgraduate degree programmes as jointly awarded courses – a first in New Zealand.


The Waimakariri River, located in Canterbury, is one of the largest braided rivers in New Zealand.

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) Tumu Whakarae | Vice Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey and Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki | Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue a long-standing partnership in freshwater science and management.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation

The agreement builds on the 2009 Joint Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management (WCFM) Agreement. A teaching and research partnership, previously based at both UC and Lincoln campuses, will now be located in a new combined Waterways Centre at UC’s Ilam campus.

Developed on the back of successful postgraduate programmes in Water Resource Management, the Waterways Centre will now offer two new programmes designed to address the changing demands for graduates in the water sector. The Master of Water Science and Management and MSc in Water Science and Management will be accepting new enrolments from 2023.

Professor De la Rey says the new programmes will create a new generation of graduates equipped to address the evolving challenges that climate change will increasingly place on our water resources.

“By providing relevant and impactful research and education in an environment where students can make a difference we hope to improve water management practices and outcomes.”

With water being a significant issue both in New Zealand and globally, the partnership aims to provide postgraduate programmes specifically relating to freshwater, while aligning the shared strategic goals of both universities.

Professor Edwards says the MoU will build on the strongly interdisciplinary focus of the universities’ existing programmes while extending scientific and technical training.

“We can also help provide the bicultural competence and confidence necessary to manage water in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad.

“This will help create opportunities for students to learn and contribute to resolving global sustainability challenges,” he says.

WCFM Director Professor James Brasington says the Centre is central to the freshwater sector, providing independent research, tertiary education and professional development in water science and management.

“It is increasingly clear that we face a future characterised by periods with too little, then too much water, and water that is, far too often, too dirty to use safely or to support healthy ecosystems.

“Learning how to assess these risks, adapt and find new solutions that ensure sustainable and equitable access to water for both people and ecosystems couldn’t be a more urgent challenge.  Our new programmes will provide graduates with the professional skills and theoretical understanding needed to drive the transformative change sweeping through the freshwater sector.” 

The Waterways Postgraduate Student Conference is an opportunity for postgraduate students to showcase their freshwater related research. The 2022 conference will be held on Tuesday 8 November, 2022 in Ti Kōuka, Haere-Roa, at the University of Canterbury. 

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