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Otago Uni's Leading Thinkers Programme Supported

Government to support University of Otago ‘Leading Thinkers’ advancement programme


The government is to invest $25 million in the University of Otago’s ‘Leading Thinkers’ advancement programme, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

The funding comes from the new Partnerships for Excellence public-private sector tertiary education investment facility that enables tertiary institutions to seek matching funding from government for large-scale investment projects. The University is to seek matching funding from private sector donors.

The Leading Thinkers programme will see the University recruiting internationally renowned academics to head up 25 new ‘knowledge leader’ projects. The projects will primarily build from disciplines in which the University already has acknowledged strength: health sciences; science and biotechnology; industry, business and management, and sustainability.

Steve Maharey said the Leading Thinkers advancement programme is closely aligned to the government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, which aims to foster excellence, relevance and access across the tertiary education system.

“The government is focusing on innovation and education as springboards for growth and development. The ‘Leading Thinkers’ programme will enable the University of Otago to significantly increase the contribution it is making to knowledge creation in disciplines that are vitally important for New Zealand’s future social and economic development.

“The programme is a three-way partnership between the government, the University and private donors and will ensure a continued dialogue with external stakeholders which is an important goal of the tertiary education reforms. Joint private-public sector investment in public tertiary education will benefit us all in the long term, as we will have the right people in the right jobs, in the right places.

“Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach will not achieve the transformation needed by our tertiary education organisations if we are to lift New Zealand back in to the top half of the OECD. The government commends the University of Otago for recognising this and developing the Leading Thinkers programme,” Steve Maharey said.

The government contribution will be offered as a no-interest loan, which will be converted into a capital injection when the initiative is fully up and running. It will be paid in instalments over the next three to four years, at a rate that matches the University’s fundraising with its private sector donor/partners. Most of the private sector funds and all of the government contribution will be placed in a trust account administered by the University, with the income from the investment of this fund being used to support the ‘Leading Thinkers’ projects.

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