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VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OUTLINES BOLD FUTURE STRATEGY

Victoria University of Wellington has released a blueprint for future development that will clear its deficit and position it for the technology age.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Sharp said that what began as an exercise to cut costs, has also enabled the University to confirm its future strategic direction. "With the input and commitment of staff, we have finalised our vision and values," said Professor Sharp. "We’ve taken the further step towards realising our strategy with eight clear goals to position us for the future."

Professor Sharp said that the process had been characterised by goodwill, effort and teamwork. "The focus on the interests of the University as a whole encourages me in the view that despite the need to make budget cuts in some areas, we have started down the path of building a stronger university for the future."

According to Professor Sharp, the future strategy includes achieving a financial surplus from 2002 onwards to help fund investment in the University’s teaching and research capability. "We’ll also be making best use of Victoria’s unique location in the capital city and cultural centre of New Zealand."

The proposal is for a management structure focussed on Schools, rather than on faculties as is the current practice. "This is a more student-focussed initiative and recognises Schools as the fundamental academic unit of the University," he said. Priority is also to be given to research and teaching in subjects where the University has existing strengths, but it is recognised there are new areas where further investment is necessary.

Victoria University has already reduced its operating deficit to $7.7 million. "The environment has changed and Victoria’s historic strategies were based on dealing with a steady growth in student numbers," said Professor Sharp. "Future projections are for a levelling off of student numbers and so the number of courses offered will need to reflect that."

"We have also accepted the challenges posed by the internationalisation of education. At the same time, Victoria University remains committed to the people of Wellington and to being the University of first choice for Maori and Pacific Islands students," he said.

The proposals will mean some job losses in the medium term including the removal of two senior management positions to streamline the management structure. Greater financial accountability and centralisation of some services are planned, with student services largely unaffected.

Further detail will be confirmed once the staff and student consultation process has been completed and a final report prepared. This is expected to be considered by the University Council in October, with implementation due to commence by the end of the year.

"Staff are naturally concerned about whether or not their jobs will be affected," said Professor Sharp. "We have taken a strategic view of how to deal with our deficit and, should our view be broadly accepted by the VUW community, we expect any further staff impacts to be identified as part of the implementation phase."

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