IAU Recognises UNITEC as University
UNITEC in Auckland has been accepted as a member of the International Association of Universities (IAU).
The Institute of Technology has been seeking redesignation since 1999 and sees the IAU membership as of its entitlement to university status.
"We have been blocked from officially being categorised as a university by the government," said Dr John Webster, UNITEC's CEO. "But we operate as a university and are accepted as such by universities overseas. The IAU decision just confirms that."
UNITEC runs 19 degree programmes, 16 postgraduates programmes to PhD level and a range of undergraduate programmes. It is has a strong reputation for delivering programmes for second chance learners and professionals, areas highlighted by the government's recent tertiary education review.
Dr Webster said the institute had approached the IAU, a United Nations affiliated organisation, as it was frustrated by the government's stance.
"The IAU is there to support its members' autonomy and academic freedom," Dr Webster said. "It stands for freedom from political interference. We think it is very appropriate that we approached the IAU, given that political interference is the only thing stopping us from calling ourselves a university."
He said UNITEC surpassed every measure required under NZQA and international standards for university status.
"UNITEC provides university level education for disciplines, professions, vocations and trades desperately needed for New Zealand's future - from medical imaging to IT specialists and experts in sustainable development.
"It has been clear for some time that we intend to continue to develop as a university, that we qualify to be recognised as one, and that it would be a good thing for New Zealand if those realities were accepted and celebrated."