University won’t lose its autonomy

by Kent Caddick

Lincoln University says it will retain its autonomy despite entering into a partnership with the University of Canterbury.

The two universities recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore partnership and merger options.

The move came under fire from Selwyn MP, Amy Adams, who claimed the government was forcing a fire sale of Lincoln University — which could lead to the Selwyn-based tertiary institute losing its autonomy.

However, Lincoln University vice-chancellor, Professor James McWha, said the MOU was the logical vehicle to ensure New Zealand’s land-based sector remained internationally competitive.

Professor McWha said the university was entering into an exciting new stage in its 140-year history.

“Our Lincoln Campus already has a strong international and national reputation as a centre of excellence in the land-based sciences, in partnership with Crown Research Institutes, industry and tertiary institutes from here and overseas.

“But we need to accelerate and enhance our work on behalf of the land-based sectors, which span agri-food and fibre, natural resources, conservation and tourism.

“We also need to encourage more young people to study and work in these areas, and we’ve been talking to government about how we might achieve our shared goals in a shorter time frame.”

He said in order to more quickly realise these ambitions for the sector and to implement the recommendations of the Transformation Board; they need additional investment and more resources.

“This is why we’re talking with the University of Canterbury about ways we can work together to the benefit of both universities.”

Professor McWha said a simple merger would not achieve what is required.

“We’re delighted that the minister has explicitly stated that the Lincoln name, identity and culture is a bottom line and that our campus will continue to be New Zealand’s headquarters for teaching and research in the land-based sectors.

“The benefits to the district of Selwyn will be manifest: a rapidly increasing student and teaching roll will spur economic development; the continuing development of national and international partnerships will attract further international recognition and inward investment, benefitting the community.

“We’re excited about the future and agree with local MP Amy Adams that an autonomous Lincoln University is critical for the accelerated development of world-class teaching and research, based at our Lincoln campus.”