Interview with the Chancellor

Sir Neville Jordan reflects on changes in the tertiary sector, council membership and key University achievements.

The year ushered in amendments to the Education Act, aimed at achieving an improved twenty-first century education system.

Of particular relevance to our sector are the plans to improve the provision of careers services and general streamlining of governance.

Later in 2016, the Productivity Commission released its draft report, New Models of Tertiary Education. The report emphasises making tertiary education relevant to the needs of employers, something that Victoria University of Wellington takes very seriously

Victoria's impact

Locally, Victoria continued to demonstrate its importance and value to the regional economy.

We contribute more than $1 billion each year to the economy. Additionally, our staff, students and alumni make a difference—through their research and contribution to debate, student internships and volunteering, and through the work of our graduates.

Globally, Victoria is having a profound impact through partnerships and collaborations. One example is work by our Robinson Research Institute to develop and manufacture a device that could reduce energy used by Beijing’s subway system by up to 40 percent. Another is Victoria astrophysicists involved in an international effort to map the sky and better understand the universe.

Key achievements

Victoria is in very good financial shape. We end 2016 having achieved critical financial budgets as well as qualitative goals in areas such as student wellbeing and our contribution to society. We’ve also seen positive enrolment growth and continue to attract world-class staff.

We are tracking well in terms of investment in capital development to ensure we provide modern, fit-for-purpose facilities for current and future students. Our redevelopment of Rutherford House will be ready for students in early 2017, and the new Science building is making excellent progress towards opening in late 2017.

The Schools of Architecture and Design has had major developments to make the facilities and laboratories suitable for new methods of teaching and research. Looking forward, we are planning an upgrade of Kirk building on the Kelburn campus and making decisions on establishing a central city home for the iconic Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.

Council focus for 2016

Following changes in 2015 to legislation governing tertiary institutes, Victoria operated with 12 Council members rather than 19, and again proved an exemplar when it comes to providing equal opportunities for women and being a champion of diversity.

We have equal representation of men and women and a range of cultural perspectives and ages around the Council table. We also have a strong track record in governance and stewardship.

All councillors belong to the Institute of Directors and we have received very positive feedback on the work we are doing through inductions and Council performance evaluations carried out by the Institute of Directors.

Personal highlights for 2016

I have a lot of personal pride in Victoria—we are going from strength to strength and have a significant impact in many arenas.

It is pleasing to see Victoria continuing on its path towards being a sustainable university with the appointment of New Zealand’s first senior university leader in sustainability—the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability)—and also continuing efforts to embed sustainability principles in our learning, teaching and campus operations.

We can also be proud of our steady increases in Māori and Pasifika student enrolments, along with our ongoing incorporation of mātauranga Māori/ Māori knowledge into curriculum development.