Green light for $70m campus

Last updated 05:00 26/07/2014

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Waikato University has been given the go-ahead for a multimillion-dollar campus in Tauranga.

The final block of funding needed to get it off the ground was announced yesterday. The $70 million project will see Waikato University, together with other providers in the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership, build a campus in the middle of Tauranga.

The project hinged on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council donating $15 million towards the campus, which it did last year, and the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust donating another $15m. The approval for this was given yesterday.

Work on the first stage of the three-stage building is likely to start in 2016, and by 2026 all three stages, costing about $70 million, should be completed.

Waikato University deputy vice-chancellor Alister Jones said yesterday that the announcement was "fantastic news".

"This is a show of confidence by the Tauranga community that we are making a difference."

The campus would probably be "an innovative building", with community access a high priority, Jones said.

He said the next step was to "begin to scope this out and begin the development process".

That would involve consulting with stakeholders over plans and coming up with something they approved of.

Funding for stages two and three of the building will be sought by the members of the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership, which includes Waikato University, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi and Waiariki Institute of Technology.

The Tauranga City Council has approved the donation of land in Durham St for the campus.

The project was first put forward by the university at the start of 2012 in response to rising student numbers from the Bay of Plenty.

A report for the Tauranga City Council by Waikato Management School professor Frank Scrimgeour estimated the campus would contribute $188m to the local economy over the next 20 years, providing a rate of return-on-investment of 30 per cent.

The report estimated that about 6500 students would use the campus between 2015 and 2035, providing the region with more than 4000 graduates. It would keep undergraduates in the region and attract teachers and postgraduate and international students. Fairfax NZ

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- Waikato Times

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