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University of Canterbury enrolments hit record high last year

09 May 2022

Student enrolments at the University of Canterbury hit a record high in 2021 despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.


Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury published its Te Pūrongo ā-Tau | Annual Report for the year ending 31 December 2021 this week.

The University achieved record student enrolments last year of 20,919 (or 16,237 equivalent full-time students). This is the highest total in the University’s history. The enrolments included more than 2050 Māori students and 644 Pasifika students who make up a record 12.8 per cent of domestic students, a particular achievement given higher overall domestic student numbers.

SDG 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

A total of 3248 students graduated last year and 5276 people were employed by the University (2043 full time equivalent staff).

University of Canterbury Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey is optimistic about the future after a challenging two years.

“The forecast for the next 10 years is good, particularly as we look forward to welcoming international students in 2022 and further developing our international strategy.”

She says the 2022 Budget includes new staff appointments and substantial investment in digital transformation, student success and research.

“We look forward to celebrating our 150th anniversary next year, and I am very excited about the many new initiatives underway that will benefit our students, staff and the wider community.”

Along with enrolment growth and securing $100 million in research funding, Professor De la Rey says highlights of the past year included the launch of a new Kā Waimaero | Office of Treaty Partnership to develop the relationship with Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu; the successful Takere live-in academic and cultural programme for Māori and Pacific first-year students; and having more than 50,000 students from around the world enrolled in UCx Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

One of the MOOCs won the global 2021 edX Prize for Exceptional Contribution in Online Teaching and Learning.

“Our digital learning systems are competitive on a national and global scale, and our additional investments will continue to develop our ability to deliver excellent teaching and research in new and exciting ways,” Professor De la Rey says.

Work continued towards the 2020-2030 Strategic Vision – Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora | Engaged, Empowered, Making a Difference. This included significant investment in capital projects, including educational development, new research equipment, decarbonisation projects and other building works, and continuing the University’s digital transformation programme.

During the pandemic, the University has successfully managed its finances to return a $5.7 million surplus on core activities for the year ending 31 December 2021, while continuing to deliver high quality teaching and research. The financial result was particularly pleasing when the University had originally budgeted for a loss that reflected the expected challenges ahead.

Revenue losses with restrictions on international students and other pandemic challenges were compensated for by improved domestic student numbers, increased research revenue, and complemented by vigilant cost management.

Restricted interests in the wider University group, which can only be used on limited types of expenditure such as scholarships, returned a surplus of $13.5 million. The total University group finished the year with assets of just under $2 billion.

Other 2021 highlights featured in the University of Canterbury Annual Report include:

  • Opening of Tupuānuku, a new student hall of residence with an integrated pastoral care programme. In December the project won the Asia-Pacific Student Accommodation Award (APSAA) for excellence in Facility Development or Management.
  • The Quality of Entire Educational Experience result was 83%, a significant improvement from 2020 and slightly above 2019 (before Covid-19 related disruption began). Teaching quality was also rated more highly than 2019, at 91%.
  • The proportion of graduates in employment or further study was 94.3%, an increase on 2020 and 2019 levels.
  • An increase in the proportion of Pasifika, Māori and female staff at the University of Canterbury.
  • Plans were unveiled for establishing a 14-hectare University of Canterbury Digital Screen Campus at the former College of Education site on Dovedale Ave. The University expects to welcome the first students to the new campus in 2023.

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