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May 14, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Vic releases annual report

Statisticians openly rejoice in streets of Kelburn

Vic has released its Annual Report for 2006, proclaiming that it “highlights a year of achievement by staff, students and alumni”. The report details facts and figures relating to the operation of the University, along with major developments in research.

With the total number of enrolments for 2006 reaching 21,076, the University was more heavily populated than ever before. While the number of equivalent full-time students (EFTS) rose by 1.3% to 16,650, this figure hides within it a massive fall-off of international students, with the total number of international EFTS dropping by 12% to 2,344.

The report also suggests that Wellingtonians are increasingly moving to other universities within New Zealand after high-school, which suggests that the rise in student numbers must be due to hordes of other New Zealanders moving to Wellington.

In terms of budgeting, the report points out that the University enjoyed an operating surplus of $4 million. However, this surplus was only 1.6% of total revenue, well-below the 3% surplus required by government guidelines. The report qualifies this failure with a gripe about “the inadequate level of funding universities receive”, stating that such inadequate funding threatens Victoria’s ability to function on the first tier of Asia-Pacific universities.

The bulk of the report is concerned with advances in research. In 2006, Victoria received $25.3 million in external research grants, including $4.8 million from the Marsden Fund. This is still a long way off the University’s goal of $40 million per year by 2012, especially as the government has decided to reduce the amount of contestable research funding available.

2006 did, however, see major advances in the research capability of the University, particularly in the biological sciences. A chemical genetics laboratory was established to map the genomes of various species, as was a Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology.

2006 also saw the launch of the Joint Antarctic Research Institute, in collaboration with the Crown.

With a massive boost in funding for Antarctic research – aimed at ecological and climate change issues – to be provided in the government’s budget announced this week, the Institute is poised to carry out a wealth of important work.

In March 2006, the School of Government and School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences organised an international conference on climate change. The conference was addressed, via video link, by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Exactly what sort of expertise he had to offer to academics working on climate change was not explained, although Victoria University Press has published a book deriving from the event.

Victoria also created a new Bachelor of Engineering by welding together all of its technology degrees.

Finally, it established the Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research, which builds upon a growth in educational studies since the merger between Victoria and the Wellington College of Education.

These various advances suggest greater opportunities for students, notwithstanding the funding difficulties highlighted in the report.

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Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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