2017 Annual Report of the University of Waikato
The Annual Report provides detailed information on the University's financial status and summarises the activities and achievements of the University.
The Council and Executive of the University of Waikato have an ambitious agenda for change and renewal. During 2017 we made considerable progress in delivering on that agenda, with projects that expand our infrastructure and physical presence in New Zealand and overseas. This work was underpinned by the release of the latest global rankings, which show that our sphere of influence is also expanding.
The University’s 2017-2021 Strategy identified improved facilities and a distinctive student experience as key goals. During the year management worked with the Campus Development Committee of Council to produce a Hillcrest Campus Strategic Master Plan 2017-2037, which was adopted by Council at its December meeting. This work will ensure that campus development matches the future needs of students, staff and the communities in which we are based. The Master Plan will see prioritised construction in parallel with substantive refurbishment of existing building stock. This work will transform the University campus and the experience of all who use it.
The University Council took the first steps towards implementation of the Master Plan in December, giving the green light for detailed design of ‘the Pa’. The Pa will create a welcoming and vibrant ‘heart’ for the Hillcrest campus, incorporating food outlets, social and formal learning spaces, and a new University marae. The Pa design will include spaces and facilities for hosting major events on campus, such as graduations, awards dinners, community functions and international conferences, as well as new spaces for teaching, learning and executive leadership. Construction of the Pa would also begin the process of providing more modern office space for staff currently located in the buildings dating from the 1960s and 1970s.
Another key project commenced in July was the construction of the University’s much-anticipated new city campus in Tauranga. By 2019, the Bay of Plenty will have a new tertiary campus in the heart of Tauranga that will consolidate and enhance the University’s current range of qualifications and study options in the Bay of Plenty. While the University has been active in the Bay of Plenty since the 1990s, this state-of-the-art new campus will create a vibrant and engaging community and industry hub delivering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as applied research that creates solutions to regional issues.
During 2017 the University conferred honorary doctorates on the Rt Hon Helen Clark, former Prime Minister, former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, and on distinguished artist Max Gimblett. The University can feel privileged to be associated with these two great New Zealanders. It was also a source of some pride for the University to see one of our alumni assume the position of Prime Minister following New Zealand’s 2017 general election. The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations and Political Science in 2001, we wish her the very best in the execution of her public duties.
I wish to extend the Council’s thanks to outgoing Waikato Student Union President William Lewis for his outstanding service to the University in 2017, and to long-serving Council member Ian Fitzgerald who concluded his time on the Council at the end of the year. It is also my great pleasure to welcome Ministerial appointees Margaret Devlin and Graeme Milne who both joined the Council during 2017.
Last, but by no means least, I thank my fellow Council members, the Vice-Chancellor and University staff for their loyalty and hard work over the past year. This is an institution we can all be proud of, one that truly lives up to its motto of being here ‘Ko Te Tangata’ (‘For The People’).
Rt Hon James Bolger ONZ
Nga matawaka o te motu, tena koutou katoa. Rarau mai ki te Whare Wananga o Waikato, ki te ahurewa o tumanako, o wawata, o moemoea. Pike mai, kake mai, whakatau mai ra. The University of Waikato has made significant progress with implementing the Strategy approved by the University Council at the end of 2016.
The University’s new Academic Plan was adopted by Council in December 2017, following an extensive consultative process that engaged staff, students, committees and other groups. The Academic Plan acts as a guide for creating academically challenging programmes that reflect the interests of students and the needs of employers and the communities with which the University is engaged. The aspiration is to provide students at the University of Waikato with an outstanding learning experience, and a sense of a distinctive academic environment. Throughout 2017 we have simplified our degree structures, aligning them with key learning principles and providing more flexible delivery options. The new curriculum will better prepare graduates for the future and, with our focus on work-integrated learning, better prepare them for work. We are confident that these changes will be well received when they are rolled out in 2018.
Our work to foster and support the success of our Pacific students also progressed in 2017, with the opening of ‘The Conch’, a dedicated space for Pacific students, and adoption of the University’s Pacific Plan. The Pacific Plan is focussed on increasing Pacific student enrolment, completion and employment outcomes, supporting pathways to postgraduate study, providing culturally responsive curricula and teaching approaches, and increasing our staff numbers drawn from Pacific peoples.
In parallel with strengthening our academic offerings, in January 2017 the University commenced work on a rebuild of our student learning and management systems. This programme of work will provide better management of student data and give students a seamless basis for interaction with University systems. From enquiry to enrolment, through each paper and on to graduation, students will need just one mobile-friendly portal to manage their interaction with the University. In addition, consolidating the three online learning systems currently used across our faculties will ensure that students need to access just one online learning environment for all of their coursework. The project, known as ‘Te Aka Manea’ (‘the sustaining vine’), will take three years to complete.
A key driver of staffing changes during 2017 was our need to match our teaching and research investment more closely with student demand and research funding opportunities. In particular, declining student numbers and uneven research performance in our Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences required that the University reassess both our staffing levels and our strategy. The University’s proposals for change generated a vigorous public debate about the merits of offering programmes for which there is very low student demand, and about the view that some disciplines have an inherent value unrelated to their ability to attract students or research income. The University welcomed this debate as an opportunity to explain the importance of student demand as an expression of the public interest in what we teach, and the importance of the student tuition-fee income and the government funding that we receive being used to provide degree programmes that our students wish to take. It was also an opportunity to reinforce the University’s accountability for the recruitment of students and the generation of external research income to maintain the financial viability of our programmes.
In September 2017 we opened the Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC) and University of Waikato joint institute in Hangzhou, becoming the first New Zealand university to receive Chinese Ministry of Education approval to fully deliver our degrees in China.
The joint institute is a reflection of the University’s long-standing commitment to partnership and collaboration in China. Our relationship with ZUCC spans more than 15 years, and our relationship with Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), which also announced a joint University of Waikato/SISU Research Centre in May, goes back more than 20 years.
The University continued its ascent in the world university rankings in 2017, with the June release of the QS World University rankings placing the University of Waikato amongst the top 1.1% of the world’s universities, and the September Times Higher Education (THE) rankings placing the University third equal in New Zealand.
Both rankings represent significant improvements over the last few years, further endorsement of the strategy that the University has adopted and testament to the commitment and calibre of our staff.
The University’s work to raise awareness of critical health workforce shortages in New Zealand culminated in the completion of a revised business case for a third medical school in New Zealand at the end of May 2017. In August, the government announced a decision to create a School of Rural Medicine in New Zealand, based very closely on the business case submitted by the University of Waikato in partnership with the Waikato DHB. While it remains to be seen whether the new government will continue with the implementation of that decision, I take considerable heart from the impact that our leadership has had on this policy debate. While those with a vested interest in the status quo claimed that there was no health workforce problem in 2016, during 2017 the weight of evidence in the public domain made that position untenable. There is now broad public and political awareness that cosmetic changes to our existing medical education and training programme will not be able to address the looming crisis in primary care outside the main centres in New Zealand, and that a dedicated graduate entry degree such as has been adopted in most other developed countries is needed to provide an additional pathway into careers in medicine. There is also now an acceptance that it is inappropriate to continue our very high level of reliance on the import of foreign-trained doctors to meet our health workforce needs when so many academically able New Zealand students cannot obtain places in the existing medical degrees.
In 2017 the University celebrated the launch of Te Huataki Waiora, the Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance. The University’s newest faculty brings together expertise from across the University and has already attracted staff with impressive records of academic and professional achievement. Areas of teaching and research within the new Faculty include sport science and high performance sport; action and lifestyle sport; clinical exercise physiology; coaching; population health, health communication, promotion and education; Maori/Pacific Island health; and neurological injury in sport.
The University has continued to make a substantial investment in expanding its scholarship programme at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
In 2017 we welcomed the first cohort of more than 40 students on our new academic excellence scholarship, Te Paewai o te Rangi. After a successful pilot in 2016, we also expanded the Te Ara ki Angitu programme that works to make university more accessible for students from the wider Waikato region. The programme includes guidance and support with the transition from high school to the University of Waikato, support and mentoring while at university, access to a portable learning device, a heavily subsidised daily Wi-Fi-enabled transport system between home and the University’s Hamilton campus (from selected Waikato towns), and the Te Ara ki Angitu - Pathway to Excellence Scholarship. In 2017 we expanded the programme to cover South Waikato, North Waikato, Piopio/Te Kuiti/Otorohanga, Coromandel/Whitianga/Whangamata, Thames/Hauraki, and Matamata/Piako.
Building on its commitment to provide national leadership in cyber security and crime science teaching and research, the University has partnered with New Zealand Police and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) to open the Evidence Based Policing Centre in Wellington. Staff from Police, the University and ESR will use the Centre to collaborate on research projects. This partnership will allow us to support New Zealand Police with a wide range of research provided by academic experts in computer science, data analysis, strategic studies and psychology, while at the same time ensuring that our research is making a real and practical difference to frontline policing and helping to create safer communities.
The University of Waikato benefits enormously from the support of a wide range of community partners, including agencies of government, local authorities and the commercial sector. This support includes funding for professorial research positions from the Bay of Plenty and Waikato Regional Councils. I am particularly pleased to acknowledge the support that we have received in Tauranga, where we are fortunate to be part of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Partnership, backed by key regional agencies such as Priority One, SmartGrowth, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust and Tauranga City Council. In addition, our Napier Centre opened in 2017 to link the University's research and teaching expertise with projects and education opportunities across Napier and Hawke's Bay, and is jointly funded by the Napier City Council.
This year we welcomed three new senior leaders; Deputy Vice-Chancellor Maori Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Dyer, and Dean of Management Professor Tim Coltman.
Three Maori staff members of the University received special recognition of their work during the year. Professor Pou Temara, from Te Pua Wananga ki te Ao, Faculty of Maori and Indigenous Studies was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori - The Maori Language Commission. One of the highest Maori language accolades, the award acknowledges Professor Temara’s ceaseless efforts to promote Maori language at a national level. Dr Te Taka Keegan, senior lecturer in Computer Science was awarded the 2017 Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching. Among his many achievements, Dr Keegan has worked with Google on the creation of a te reo Maori web interface, and developed the translation toolkit that lead to Google Translate in te reo Maori. In acknowledgement of her work to lift Maori student achievement, Associate Professor Mere Berryman from Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education was one of three finalists for the 2017 New Zealander of the Year.
The University was successful in a number of national research funding rounds in 2017.
Four staff received funding from the Health Research Council, for research in areas including Maori medicinal plants, bone regeneration, holistic approaches to Maori paediatric healthcare, cancer diagnosis and transgender health. Four researchers were also awarded Marsden funding as lead researchers, with two additional staff receiving funding as part of a joint project with another institution. Project areas include redefining indigenous literature, reconnecting with ancestral stories, traumatic memories, early childhood education for refugee resettlement, and the ecology of extreme environments. Three research projects in the areas of AI and security were awarded Endeavour funding in 2017, and three research staff were recognised by the Royal Society Te Aparangi with an award, medal or fellowship.
In 2017 University of Waikato researchers also received three major grants from the Government worth nearly $3 million. The money was from the MBIE Endeavour Fund’s Smart Ideas programme, designed to invest in promising, innovative research with high potential to benefit New Zealand. This included work on applying principles from the human visual system to navigation technology, integrating ‘The Internet of Things’ with security systems, and removing motion-blur in cameras.
I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the University’s staff. Successful implementation of a significant change agenda requires resilience and commitment to the strategy of building a stronger institution for the future. Preparing successive generations of students to make great contributions to our economy and society, while also advancing understanding through quality research, makes the University environment a unique and inspiring place to work. I thank all members of the University staff, and members of the community that we serve, for their contribution to the mission of the University, and I acknowledge the support that I personally have received from the University Council, my colleagues in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and the Executive Team.
Professor Neil Quigley