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Enhanced tertiary and research provision

Enhanced tertiary and research provision

Economic development agency Priority One is championing the development of a new Tauranga city centre tertiary and research campus, which will create a step change in the Bay of Plenty region’s economy.

The new campus is being developed in a unique partnership comprising the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Waiariki Institute of Technology, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the University of Waikato.

It is anticipated that the project will be a crucial step closer to realisation following the consultation process currently being undertaken by the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust.

Trustees have recommended that funding of up to $15 million be made available to expand tertiary education, subject to a satisfactory funding agreement being in place. They are seeking feedback from TECT consumers on this proposal, with the consultation period closing on Tuesday 15 July 2014.

The new campus is seen as crucial to lifting the Bay of Plenty’s economic performance.

It will also provide the four tertiary institutions with a central base to work together and with businesses and organisations from around the region. The campus will have a focus on regional innovation and entrepreneurship, and be recognised both nationally and internationally as a hub for teaching, learning and research. It would see nearly 6500 students commencing studies in Tauranga between 2015 and 2035 and result in more than 4000 graduates.

Andrew Coker, Chief Executive of Priority One, says “New facilities are required to support an increase in research and tertiary provision reflecting the region’s competitive advantages, to provide pathways through tertiary education from certificates to post graduate qualifications and to attract more young people, particularly Maori, into post-secondary education within the region.”

Bill Wasley, Chair of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership Steering Group and SmartGrowth, says “SmartGrowth has been advocating for a university experience campus in the Western Bay of Plenty for a long time and the community desire for this was confirmed as a top priority for the region by 37 community meetings organised as part of the recent SmartGrowth review. An enhanced tertiary education system in the region is a critical part of sustainable regional economic and social development.”

Tauranga City Council is a strong supporter of the project and will gift land in Durham Street for the development and delivery of tertiary education. In addition, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has committed up to $15 million in funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund for the new campus, subject to conditions. The total cost of the development will be $88.8 million, with the balance of $58.8 million provided by the University of Waikato. The development will roll out in two stages with the first stage construction set to be completed in 2018.

The new campus is predicted to generate $133 million in regional revenue and provide over 600 new jobs. It will also significantly revitalise the city centre and will strengthen the business case for other projects such as the development of an international hotel and conference centre, as well as student accommodation.

A cost benefit analysis prepared by the University of Waikato Management School estimates the city centre campus will be worth $187 million in 20 years, providing a rate of return of more than 30 per cent on the initial investment. Another report on the project has been completed by PWC and will be made available by Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust.


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