University's big move
Major development will be on the cards for the Lion Brewery site in Khyber Pass if the University of Auckland's plans go ahead.
It's a move that would see the institution shift much, if not all, of its Tamaki campus to Newmarket and the city in an effort to centralise its facilities.
Vice-chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says the benefits of the Newmarket site include shared transport routes with the city and Grafton campuses; the opportunity to integrate campus development and space for student accommodation and other facilities.
The 5.2ha site also gives the university room to grow over the next 50 years, he says.
Newmarket Business Association chief executive Ashley Church is delighted by the prospect.
"It delivers us potential consumers for our products and services and it tidies up that site considerably. There's no question that it has become a bit of an eyesore."
It also ticks lots of boxes in the association's strategic plan as it includes the possibility of building a conference centre and high quality accommodation, Mr Church says.
"This will substantially change the configuration of retail at that end of town and that will be for the better."
But what of the community the university would leave behind?
Glen Innes business association manager Gary Holmes says the association is disappointed but optimistic.
"They have been a good neighbour over the years but we are trying to think of it as an opportunity," he says.
He would ideally like to see the campus replaced by an innovation business hub because commercial ventures tend to be more frequent users of local businesses and services.
"There is a shortage of business zoned land across Auckland. The buildings are purpose-built for education or business use. I think it would be a shame to convert it into housing," Mr Holmes says.
Maori Into Tertiary Education project leader Maria Paenga thinks it's a move in the wrong direction.
Her research indicates that to raise education levels among Maori it's important that tertiary institutions are located in the communities where there is a need.
She says Glen Innes has one of the highest levels of unemployment and educational underachievement in Auckland.
Mrs Paenga, who works at Te Wananga O Aotearoa, says there is a mismatch between the elitism of the university and the reality of low education levels in that community.
The Maori Into Tertiary Education project (MITE) is the largest collaborative tertiary project in the country and works with tertiary institutions, among them the University of Auckland, to provide students with information on sub-degree and degree level pathways into tertiary education.
But she says the university could do more to facilitate that process.
"The university needs to address policies within the institute to allow people to actually come through their doors.
"I think the move to Newmarket is a clear indication that they are not dedicated to serving the communities of need."
Deputy vice-chancellor (strategic engagement) Professor Iain Martin says vacating the Tamaki campus would have no impact on the university's access strategies.
"We have a very clear strategy around growing our participation from students of Maori, Pacific and low socio-economic backgrounds.
"MITE is only one of more than 20 programmes being used across the university which focus on increasing participation rates. It would be wrong to link a physical location with that mission."
But he agrees that study pathways could be better.
"Our commitment is to work around that and make sure students that are able but haven't had the chances can get into the university. It's about working with other tertiary providers like MIT and Unitec and with high schools to make sure pathways are clear to students."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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