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Victoria University has decided that the Faculty of Education and the Foundation Studies programme will move from Karori to Kelburn, paving the way for Victoria to sell off its long-neglected campus.
The land on which Karori’s Donald Street campus is currently located was publicly gazetted in April, giving weight to the mounting speculation that the University was seeking to sell Karori. Now that the University has moved all the active programmes on the Karori campus to Kelburn, it is believed the sale will go ahead soon.
Both the Faculty of Education and the Foundation Studies programme will be taught at the Kelburn campus from the start of next year. The specialist teaching and learning facilities at Karori (music, art, dance, science and technology) will also be catered for at Kelburn.
According to discussions held by the Academic Board on 9 June, Faculty of Education and Foundation Studies staff were “broadly supportive” of the shift.
Education Dean David Crabbe said the shift to Kelburn would improve recruitment of both staff and students, see more immediate interactions across disciplines, and improve students’ overall access to facilities at Kelburn and in the city.
Some Academic Board members expressed concerns that the relocation would put a strain on library resources and parking availability at Kelburn.
It was also noted that the School of Education’s temporary facilities at Kelburn could be lacking in disability access, which would need to be addressed at a future date.
For students, the shift was seen as an opportunity to maintain a sense of community among the Education students who have, for a long time, reported feeling isolated from the main student body at Kelburn.
While the University had previously taken measures to improve the student experience at Karori through a range of social events, open research seminars and presentations, as well as the recently subsidised cafeteria, the move to Kelburn proved to be the more desirable option.
However, VUWSA Academic Vice-President Jonathan Gee acknowledged that, “it’s been an ongoing frustration for many Karori-based students that they pay the same Student Services Levy yet don‘t get the same level of services on their campuses.”
Most education students have reacted positively to changes. Education student Samantha Ward remains optimistic about the move and told Salient she will be happy not to have to “travel as far from home and be closer to my friends.”
However, not all students are convinced that the shift will bring improvements.
One education student told Salient that while some of the services at Karori were lacking, the sense of community was important for the students. “The campus at Karori is quite isolated, but it’s a community because we’re all doing the same thing, you won’t have the support system you had amongst students that you had at Karori”.
There are also concerns for the future, or as referred to in University Council papers “likely closure”, of Karori’s Te Ako Pae Marae. The marae currently hosts some of the University’s tikanga-based activities and stands as the only marae in the Karori area.
On top of this, Te Kura Māori—the Māori teaching faculty—will be merged with the Faculty of Education. The merger was aimed at encouraging “togetherness”, according to Crabbe and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Māori) Piri Sciascia, in the hope of overcome the existing “artificial division” that had “hindered collective work” between the two schools.
Crabbe assured Salient that a process was underway to decide the best way to ensure tikanga activities take place at Kelburn. He insisted that there would be an open dialogue with local Māori to decide on the future of the marae.
It remains unclear how exactly the local Māori community will be consulted and whether Te Ako Pae will be incorporated with the the Te Herenga Waka Marae up at Kelburn.