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Massey-Lincoln alignment concept talks

Massey-Lincoln alignment talks at concept stage only says Vice-Chancellor

“Unnecessary public confusion” and “unfortunate speculation” about alignment discussions between Massey University’s College of Sciences and Lincoln University have been put to rest by the two institutions with the joint release today (12 August) of a discussion paper outlining the rationale for the talks and the benefits they see in collaborating in specific areas.

In releasing the paper at today’s Lincoln University Council meeting, Vice-Chancellor Dr Frank Wood said it made considerable sense for the two organisations, with complementary skills and common client bases related to critical areas for New Zealand, to engage in dialogue aimed at enhancing each others abilities and services to key sectors. Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear has identified that the concept paper has been received by the Massey University Council.

Dr Wood emphasised that the talks were at the “concept stage only”. He said he was under no illusions that the processes involved would be easy.

Both parties would have to ensure that their respective institutions were enhanced and it would require both industry and Government support and investment, he said.

Dr Wood said that during 2001 Lincoln and Massey Universities had engaged with a number of agribusiness based organisations to discuss skills, needs and ability planning for land-based industries.

Parties involved included representatives of MAF, Young farmers, ITOs, Dexcel, the Royal Society and the horticulture industry.

“From those beginnings, the Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Massey and Lincoln agreed in mid-2002 to advance exploratory discussion between the two institutions.

“The concept paper released today has its roots in that interaction,” said Dr Wood.

“Late last year a scoping meeting between senior academics at each university subsequently led to a partnership between Massey and Lincoln in the successful bid for Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) funding for the National Centre for Advanced Bioprotection Technologies.

“Nothing further has been formalised and merger is not part of the agenda.

“The challenge has become one of developing a new and unique operating format which does not compromise other activities or interests.

“Both institutions acknowledge the need to retain their respective points of difference and both acknowledge that the areas for possible interaction are specific.”

The paper, authored by Lincoln University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Frank Wood and Massey University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) Dr Robert Anderson, highlights the national importance of integrating strengths the two universities have in order to provide “leading edge teaching, research and technology transfer services to advance the country’s ‘biological economy’ nationwide”.

The two university leaders say it cannot be over-emphasised that “serving the best interests of New Zealand, specifically its economically crucial biological industries, is at the heart of the collaborative initiative.”

They go on to say that the vision aligns directly with the Government’s strategy and direction for tertiary education.

The paper stresses the importance of the work historically and currently undertaken by the two universities contributing to the “value chain of New Zealand’s biological industries” and to advancing the country’s “biological economy” in general.

“Without wishing to understate the contributions of other sectors, the prosperity of New Zealand still stems largely from a history of excellence in the biological sciences,” they say.

The authors of the paper believe that Massey and Lincoln universities have a “mutual obligation to the wider New Zealand society to initiate a process of change”.

The “over-arching goal” of the Massey-Lincoln initiative is to achieve an integration of strengths” for the long-term benefit of the nation.

“Both universities have extensive national and international networks that have evolved from 200 years of combined effort and commitment to excellence,” they say.

They see the 1+1=3 outcome as a guiding principle.

“Constructing a framework and operating culture to realise such an outcome is certain to be a challenge, not the least because of the extent of innovative thinking that is sure to be required.

“It is also essential that the initiative be viewed as a first step towards greater cooperation and partnership with certain Crown Research Institutes, polytechnics and industry organisations.”

The paper lists some specific benefits of the alignment as including -

Improved partnership between university-level capability and the land-based industries nationwide. Maintenance of the necessary range of specialist educational and research programmes to meet industry needs. Avoidance of duplicative and competitive effort. More graduates to meet industry needs. Ability to extend the reach of current Lincoln programmes via the Massey University extramural infrastructure. Collaboration in agricultural extension and professional development activities, for instance the current cooperation in relation to the Dairy3 and SIDE dairy industry conferences. Benefits to local, regional and rural economies through programme maintenance and future growth. Strengthening of New Zealand’s land-based educational capability internationally. Operational efficiencies. Maintenance of the strong Lincoln and Massey “brands”.

end

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT Ian Collins, Journalist, Lincoln University, Canterbury Tel: (03) 3252811 ext 8549. Email: collinsi@lincoln.ac.nz

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