University of Waikato Tauranga campus thriving despite challenging year

The University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus was officially opened in early 2019. Two years on, and through an exceptionally difficult year with Covid-19, it continues to experience growth across all areas of its development, including campus, students and staff.

The Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust met this month to receive its annual report from the University of Waikato.

The Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust is made up of the three key funders of the Tauranga campus development, including TECT which contributed $15 million, Bay of Plenty Regional Council which contributed $15 million, and Tauranga City Council which donated the land on Durham Street.

It was a successful first full reporting year, with a number of highlights covered in the University’s  report to the Trust.  

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Waikato responded swiftly, moving teaching and learning from traditional campus-based delivery to online and blended delivery while maintaining strong student support systems in this new environment.

The University also surveyed students during and after lockdown, and in the middle of B Trimester, to help inform decisions related to delivery of papers and programmes moving forward.

The campus won a number of architecture awards in 2020, notably the 2020 Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Education Award and at the 2020 Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards, winning the Greenstone Group Education Property Award.

The campus also received a top Australasian award for its innovative learning environment design, winning the 2020 New Construction/Entire New Educational Facility Category at Learning Environments Australasia’s 12th Annual Awards for Excellence in Educational Facilities.

There have also been wins for the campus in terms of enrolment numbers, going beyond enrolment predictions with steady growth each year.

In 2018, prior to the CBD campus, the University had 813 students studying in Tauranga. After opening in 2019, student numbers increased by 30% to 1057 students and in 2020, numbers increased again by 30% to 1200 students.

A range of scholarships awarded in 2020 also worked to encourage students to participate in a university education here in Tauranga.

A total of 22 Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust scholarships – across First in Family, Returning Student, and Research Masters Scholarship – were offered, with 20 of these taken up. Three further Tauranga-based scholarships were awarded by the Acorn Foundation.

In 2020 the University continued to increase the number of papers, as well as qualifications, on offer in Tauranga. For example, Tauranga students can now complete the first year of the mechatronics major for the Bachelor of Engineering.

As programmes have grown, so have staff numbers at the campus. There are now four professors based in Tauranga, and recent appointments include an Associate Professor in Environmental Psychology and an Associate Professor in Early Childhood.

There are also big plans for the future. The University continues to invest in key land locations to future-proof a connected and vibrant campus precinct within the Tauranga CBD.

This includes the investment in establishing an undergraduate science and engineering laboratories adjacent to the University in Durham Street, and purpose-built student accommodation on Selwyn Street, which is due to open next year.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alister Jones, says the campus has made exceptional progress during one of the most challenging periods of the University’s 57-year history, much of which is down to the strong support within the University, and from the wider community.

“We are proud that the campus is cementing its place in Tauranga and wider Bay of Plenty, and we thank the Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust for their continued support of our staff and students, and the future direction of the University”.

TECT General Manager Wayne Werder says the Tauranga Tertiary Campus Charitable Trust was pleased to see the Annual Report’s results.

“It has been a challenging year with Covid-19, but it is fantastic to see the Tauranga campus thriving, both in the progress of the campus development, and in the learning happening within its walls.

“Seeing student numbers rise, qualification and paper offerings expand, and plans in place for campus growth, we know that the Tauranga campus will continue to contribute successfully to our region’s economic and social development.”


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