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September 17, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Proposal Made for University Super Group

In a recent Nine-to-Noon segment, former Massey University Chancellor Dr Russ Ballard proposed the idea that New Zealand’s eight universities should combine to form a single educational body, known as the University of New Zealand. Dr Ballard said that because New Zealand has a relatively small economy, the current model is not cost-effective, and is hurting universities financially.
According to the interview, New Zealand universities are currently very dependent on revenue from international students, but due to competition from overseas universities with higher rankings, the number of international students will decrease. This means that universities would have to reduce costs through different means, such as removing programmes and cutting staff. “… the universities could create a single administrative structure with one enrolment system and decide which functions were best delegated to individual institutions and which were best tackled centrally,” said Ballard.
These centralised decisions would not be made by the government, but rather by a council, “which would be the council of the University of New Zealand”, he said. The different “campuses” (as they would be referred to) would still retain their character, much like the separate universities do now.

The only exception to this system would be the University of Auckland, which Dr Ballard described as being “big enough and having a reputation significant enough to stand on its own on the world scale”. Other than this, the remaining seven universities — Otago, Canterbury, Waikato, Massey, Lincoln, AUT, and Victoria — would amalgamate to form one institution.
Dr Ballard’s statements sit alongside the recent dialogue and proposal by the University Council to change the name of the university, with Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford stating that the reason for the name change is to “improve the university’s standing internationally, to attract greater numbers of international students, and to provide clarity about the place of our university in international rankings”.
Last year, out of 22,000 students, over 3500 were international — approximately 6.3 percent. The revenue garnered from international fees (pre-degree, undergraduate, and postgraduate) in 2017 was $37.6 million, which accounted for 8.4 percent of the university’s total revenue. This was an increase from $35 million in 2016, and $31 million in 2015.
When asked if he thought Dr Ballad’s plan had potential, Guilford said that he saw “value in the exploration of other kinds of models, such as the Wageningen model involving universities like Lincoln and Massey and Crown Research Institutes working in agriculture”.

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