Background and location of the Faculty of Education

Background and information on the location of the Faculty of Education and relocation of the Faculty from Victoria’s Karori campus to its Kelburn campus.

Background

The Wellington College of Education moved to the Karori campus in 1970. In 2005, the College merged with Victoria’s School of Education to form the University’s current Faculty of Education.

Victoria has long favoured constructing a purpose-built building on its Kelburn campus to house the Faculty of Education. This was not feasible at the time of the merger and the Faculty was established on the Karori campus.

The land and buildings that make up the Karori campus came onto Victoria University’s balance sheet, and under the University’s control in 2005. The management and investment responsibility for the campus has effectively rested with Victoria and its predecessor, the College of Education, for over 25 years.

In 2016, the Faculty of Education was relocated from Karori to Victoria’s Kelburn campus.

Faculty of Education and Karori campus

The location of Victoria’s Faculty of Education had been a subject of review and debate within Victoria for many years, and regularly since 2001. The benefits of having Faculty of Education staff and students located alongside staff and students from other disciplines, and at Victoria’s main campus, have long been anticipated. The Karori campus has some good facilities and plenty of space but its distance from the University’s main Kelburn campus, the University’s other campuses and the central city, created a sense of disconnection for staff and students. The distance limits the on-campus services available to students in comparison with the services available on the Kelburn campus and also limits academic engagement and collaboration between Karori staff and students and other parts of the University.

In addition, the size of the Karori campus—3.7 hectares and 20 buildings—has been challenging, with the land and buildings under-utilised by the Faculty of Education and staff and students spread across a large area. As a result, the campus has not always been used to its full potential. There are also considerable costs in maintaining it—Victoria has spent $10-$12 million maintaining and upgrading the campus since 2005. Over the same period, depreciation charges totalled $7.8 million.

Victoria periodically reviews the role and suitability of all its campuses and Karori is no exception. On several occasions over the past fifteen years there have been high level reviews of how best to optimise the use of the Karori campus to support Victoria’s academic goals.

For these reasons, and given Primary Strategy 3 and Enabling Strategy 3 in Victoria’s Strategic Plan (‘Provide a holistic learning, teaching and student experience that is second to none’ and ‘Optimise the University’s organisation, processes, facilities and use of resources’) the University decided in 2015 to conduct a comprehensive review of the Karori campus. This review is due to be completed by mid-2016 and the University Council is expected to make a decision on the future role of the Karori campus later this year.

Relocation of Faculty of Education

The benefits of relocating Victoria’s Faculty of Education to the Kelburn campus, or close to the Kelburn campus, had also been discussed at Victoria for many years. Changes in student expectations and in the type and scale of research and teaching in the Faculty have been steady and significant since the Faculty was created in 2005. A range of options for shifting the Faculty were considered and analysed before the University decided, in June 2015, to relocate the Faculty to its Kelburn campus from the start of the 2016 year.

This decision was seen as critical for a number of reasons: addressing the geographic isolation of the Karori campus; allowing better support of students; fostering interaction between staff from different academic disciplines; assisting with recruitment of staff and students and; improving opportunities for Faculty of Education development and business growth by locating it closer to Wellington’s CBD.

The conversion of a student accommodation building to provide interim facilities for the Faculty reflected the importance of the relocation to the academic programme and the compromise the University was prepared to accept to achieve this. The Faculty of Education move has been extremely positive and is allowing productive teaching and research collaborations between education staff and colleagues in a wide range of subject areas.