Government invests $260m in world class learning

31 October 2013

University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood and Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr responded with appreciation to the Government's announcement of a significant $260 million

Government invests $260m in world class learning  - Imported from Legacy News system

(from left) Tipene O'Regan, Lynn McClelland, Dr Rod Carr, Hon Steven Joyce, Rt Hon John Key, Dr John Wood, Erin Jackson.

University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood and Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr responded with appreciation to the Government’s announcement of a significant $260 million investment in the University of Canterbury, earmarked for world class facilities for science and engineering.

"Today’s announcement is a major milestone for the University and a momentous day for Christchurch and Canterbury as we take a major step into an exciting future for learning and research for UC students,” they said.

"On behalf of the University community and the many friends of the University who have supported us, we thank the Government warmly for its substantial commitment, which will enable the transformation of the University and its on-going support for the recovery of Christchurch.

The Government investment is focused on three key elements: 

  1. A five-year commitment to the Student  Achievement Component funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, providing “whole of institution” support
  2. Capital investment of up to $250m in new and upgraded learning and research facilities in engineering and science
  3. An immediate $10m investment to support detailed planning for these major capital projects

Dr Carr said a period of significant development and growth lies ahead and the University will be seeking to maximise the Government’s investment through prudent financial management.

 “Like all organisations, we must live within our means,” he said.

"The University is forecasting a return to surpluses from 2017. Independent financial advice has provided reassurance to the University that the proposed support will be sufficient to ensure the University can meet its obligations as they fall due,” Dr Carr said. "Payments to UC bondholders will not be affected.”

Boost for engineering and science

Dr Wood said the Government’s support will enable the University to invest in new and upgraded engineering and science facilities which will be contemporary, flexible and will attract students and staff from around New Zealand and overseas.

The expanded and fully modernised College of Engineering ($145m and the $212m Regional Science and Innovation Centre (RSIC) phase I (multidiscplinary teaching hub plus new research facilities for chemistry, geography, geological sciences and physics and astronomy) are scheduled for completion by the beginning of 2017.  Phase 2 of the RSIC (new staff workspace and accommodation for the College of Education's Science and Technology Education Programme and the College of Science's Outreach Programme) is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2019.

"Thanks to Government support which makes a substantial contribution toward the costs of these investments, the University will now be able to proceed with detailed planning. Students and parents as well as staff can now have even more confidence in the quality of UC’s world class learning environment where research, teaching and learning take place in ways which are inspirational and innovative.”

 Standout graduates & community connections

Dr Carr said: "The Government’s commitment is not solely in response to the University’s current financial position. It acknowledges the University’s strengths in science and engineering and recognises its commitment to producing standout graduates in Arts, Business and Law, Education, Science and Engineering.

"We want all our graduates, whatever their chosen discipline or qualification, to have the skills, knowledge, experience and confidence to be leaders in their professional lives, role models in their local communities, global citizens and champions of a bi-cultural society within a multi-cultural world.

"To do this, we are reaching out to establish new connections and enhance existing ones, including our relationships with Ngai Tahu and with schools, to create exciting learning opportunities for all our students. Beyond libraries, lecture theatres and laboratories, engagement with the community, time in the workplace and overseas experiences will ensure our graduates are better prepared to contribute than ever before.”

Remediation

The University will now be in a better position to complete remediation and strengthening of the remainder of its campus more quickly. 80% of UC built space will be remediated.  Of its planned $1.1 billion capital works programme over the next decade around 25 percent will be insurer-funded, about half funded by the University and the balance from the Government support announced today. 

"Without support, it would have been impossible for us to make the same level of investment as other institutions in facilities such as laboratories, teaching spaces and information technology to support 21st century research intensive higher education especially in engineering and science. This would have put the University of Canterbury at considerable risk of falling behind other institutions and failing to restore student numbers to at least pre-earthquake levels,” Dr Carr said.

Benefits to Canterbury region

Over the next 10 years UC will bring an extra 1500 domestic students to Christchurch from outside the region by offering a comprehensive range of programmes across a wide range of disciplines. Each will spend up to $25,000 a year in the region on fees, accommodation and entertainment. The majority will be engaged in part time work.

The University will in the same period also bring an additional 1500 full-fee international students to Christchurch. Each will spend up to $40,000 per year in the region.

Over the next decade the operational expenditure of the University will exceed $3 billion providing a significant contribution to economic activity in the city.

Dr Carr said the Government’s commitment follows a period of significant uncertainty for staff and students.

"The Government, quite rightly, wanted us to deliver a compelling case for support,” Dr Carr says.

"That took time and energy, and all the while our staff continued to teach and inspire our students and carry out their research. They also faced many personal challenges as a result of the earthquakes. Today is for them, as much as the University itself.”