Interview with the Vice-Chancellor

Professor Grant Guilford discusses advancements made in key strategic areas, including enrolment growth and preparing students for the workplace of the future.

Key achievements for 2017

In terms of our academic mission, a key achievement was the launch of our Faculty of Health, which has filled a longstanding gap in the University’s curriculum and is much needed by the city.

We’ve seen a strong performance in other faculties, with fast growth in the Engineering faculty for example, and our Bachelor of Arts now the most popular degree of its kind among New Zealand universities.

The opening of the Miramar Creative Centre in the heart of Wellington’s film industry was a milestone as was rationalising our infrastructure with the sale of the Karori campus to another community-minded organisation—Ryman Healthcare.

Progress on graduate employability

We saw better public and employer appreciation of the future nature of work and put strong emphasis on giving our students transferable skills they can take through their careers.

We worked hard to improve the amount of work-integrated learning through experiences such as internships and scholarship programmes.

A highlight was a fantastic programme where our international students joined local workplaces to give businesses insights into their markets offshore and help them better understand the environment they are selling into.

Boosting Māori and Pasifika achievement

Developing a pathways programme to bring in more young Māori and Pasifika was a key focus in 2017. We also completed a review of the 63 interventions, representing around $4 million of investment, that support Māori and Pasifika students so we are clear on which of these are delivering the best results.

Research with impact

A standout example was the licensing of an anti-cancer drug in Japan, based on science carried out at the Ferrier Research Institute. This is the first time in many years that New Zealand research has led to a drug in clinical usage. We’re confident it will also be licensed in other countries and make a significant difference to the progress against cancer.

Another measure is the accolades staff receive and we have had a fantastic year in that respect, capped off by Professor Colin Wilson winning the premier award, the Rutherford Medal.

Growing international links

We focused on deepening and enriching our many international links, including further developing the Capital City Universities Initiative by bringing selected staff from other capital city universities to Wellington to engage with us and the city on important issues.

We also began implementing the two Centres for Asia–Pacific Excellence (CAPEs) that Victoria University is hosting, one focused on Latin America and one on Southeast Asia. The CAPEs are helping New Zealanders become more familiar with the language, cultural and business opportunities in both regions.

Enhancing student experience

Our growth in student numbers is testament to the fact that the student experience we offer is very rewarding. It starts with the classroom experience, which is second to none, and extends to the experience in the wider university and the city.

We put very significant resources into pastoral care, particularly for first-year students. Other initiatives included the introduction of restorative justice processes as well as community outreach programmes.

We also saw great progress in the way the city embraces our students with things such as discounts on public transport and a commitment to improving accommodation for students by local authorities.

It was an incredibly busy year and we will be surrounded by even more opportunity in 2018. This is testament to the quality of our staff.

Because we are a purpose-led, values-based organisation, people put their heart and soul into their work and that is what we have seen in 2017.

I want to thank staff, students, Council members, partners, stakeholders, alumni and donors for everything they have done for Victoria University of Wellington in 2017.