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Speculation has intensified in recent weeks over the University’s worst kept secret—its desire to sell the Karori campus.
It was publicly gazetted on 1 April that the University was granted title to several lots of Crown land, including the land on which Karori’s Donald Street Campus is currently located. The land was acquired for “university purposes”.
Gaining title to the land allows the University to sell it.
According to the University, “the option [to acquire the land] became available and it made sense to complete the transfer as the land was already on Victoria’s balance sheet and under our management”—although Salient would like to point out that’s a large capital outlay to make simply because “it made sense.”
For years, speculation has been rife about the neglected and fairly inaccessible campus.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan told Salient that VUWSA is “aware that students at Karori feel quite disconnected from the uni and there is a concerning lack of student support services available compared to Kelburn.”
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson told Salient that feedback he had received over the years attested to the fact that Karori “could be a lonely place for students”.
One teaching student told Salient “you always hear that the campus is closing”, and pointed out that Karori students already had to go to Kelburn to renew their IDs, purchase textbooks and fulfil most other administrative tasks.
While Robertson was unsure of the University’s intentions with Karori, he acknowledged that the campus occupied a valuable piece of land. He said it would be “curious” if, having not owned it previously, the University were now to sell the campus for “commercial interests”.
According to Zwaan, “it’s been mooted that the School of Education may be moved to Kelburn campus but there is a lack of clarity as to if and what and when this will happen.”
It remains to be seen whether there would be space to accommodate an increased number of students at Kelburn.
Academic Committee papers show Kelburn is already being considered to accommodate an Education and Foundational studies programme.
The University maintains that “no decisions have been made about the land”.