Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Hear about why and how Victoria University is disposing of the Karori campus from Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.

University surprised by some Wellington city councillors’ lack of knowledge

The poor understanding some Wellington city councillors have of the legal requirements around the Public Works Act and divestment of the University’s Karori campus is surprising, says Victoria University of Wellington Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford.

“All the information they need to be properly informed about the process the University is required to follow is one click away on Victoria University’s website.”

“If councillors had done their due diligence there might be more informed debate about the matter.”

Professor Guilford was responding to reports from a meeting held by the Wellington City Council yesterday.

“The Karori community has had free access to the Karori campus for many years and continues to be able to use recreational facilities there. Victoria University’s primary purpose is to provide high quality and cost effective tertiary education to our students on behalf of the wider community. Other bodies, including the Wellington City Council, have a mission to provide community facilities.

“The key reason Victoria has relocated its Faculty of Education from the Karori campus to Kelburn is to ensure the University is able to provide the capital city with a leading edge teacher education programme that is housed in modern facilities, with appropriate support services and a student experience that could never be offered in Karori. That is why we are divesting our Karori campus and why we are investing $80 million in refurbishing the Kirk Building on the Kelburn campus, where our Faculty of Education will be housed.

“Victoria University did not buy the Karori campus for $10. The $10 fee charged when the Crown transferred the Karori campus title to Victoria University has become the subject of myth and ignores the fact that the University has invested many millions of dollars in upgrading and maintaining the facility. Victoria has been the beneficial owner of the Karori campus since 2004, when assets and liabilities for the campus were valued and came onto the University’s balance sheet. Since that time, Victoria has been fully responsible for upgrades, maintenance, operating and insurance costs.

“Maintaining the vacant Karori campus is costing Victoria around $200,000 a month—money that we should be investing in our core mission of providing high quality teaching and research. To put this in cost in perspective, this sum is equivalent to 20 scholarships for disadvantaged students that we are unable to provide for each month of delay.

“Victoria University is required to follow a formal, legal process to divest the Karori campus. It is important that there is a rapid resolution on the future of the campus both for the Karori community and the University. The Wellington City Council and the Ministry of Education have been engaged in that process since the Victoria University Council declared the campus surplus to its requirements in August 2016, and we have regularly updated them since then. Both agencies were also aware long before that date that Victoria was reviewing the role the Karori campus might play in the University’s future.

We wholeheartedly reject comments by Councillor Andy Foster that the University knew it did not want the land on the Karori campus when it applied to have it transferred from the Crown in 2010. At that time the Karori campus was actively used for educational purposes. However, had Victoria determined there was no ongoing educational need for the land, it could have applied for the Crown to sell that asset with at least 80% of the proceeds being paid to Victoria. Victoria’s application was clear that the University’s asset portfolio is under constant review and may be reconfigured in the future.”

Professor Grant Guilford

Update from the Vice-Chancellor

Right versus right decisions

Whether to keep or dispose of the Karori campus is a ‘right versus right’ decision—Karori residents are not wrong to urge Victoria to protect their interests and nor is the University wrong to make the best use of the asset to reduce cost pressures on students and taxpayers.

Training the educators of tomorrow

Moving the Faculty of Education from Karori to Victoria’s main campus in Kelburn has bought many benefits for students and staff and supports Victoria’s commitment to training the very best teachers for New Zealand classrooms.

Working with Karori Kids and Campbell Street Kindergarten

Once the University has fulfilled its legal obligations under the Public Works Act, it will be free to work directly with the two early child care centres on the Karori campus to explore options for enabling their continuity.

The $10 myth

The $10 fee charged when the Crown transferred the Karori campus title to Victoria University has become the subject of myth and ignores the fact that the University has invested many millions of dollars in upgrading and maintaining the facility.

Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford debunks the myth around Karori campus having been acquired for $10.