University thinks big with $100m plan

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
Victoria University
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INVESTMENT IN SCIENCE: A sketch of the new science complex to be built at Victoria University’s Kelburn campus.

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A $100 million building investment by Victoria University is part of a grand plan to double student enrolments in the next 20 years.

A new science block will be built on the Kelburn campus, while Rutherford House, near Wellington railway station, will be redeveloped to support growth at the university's business school.

Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford said the university was gearing up for several phases of change and was taking lessons from what the top eight universities in the world were doing.

Vocational studies, including postgraduate and masters programmes, were popular with international students and the leading universities were known for their larger enrolments in those areas.

As a result, the university was concentrating on accommodating more of those programmes while also expanding the research labs and teaching space for biological science.

"We're also trying to recruit more people from Auckland to Wellington, and we're making space for them with hostels."

A new hostel with capacity for 390 students opens next year and Guilford was optimistic student enrolments would reach 30,000 in the next 20 years.

The investment comes on the back of an $80m joint venture between Whitireia and WelTec polytechnics, in which the old Deka building site on the corner of Cuba and Dixon streets will be converted to host more than 1000 fulltime students on arts and creative technology courses.

It is scheduled to open in 2018, at the same time as Victoria's Kelburn campus redevelopment, while the Rutherford House project is expected to be completed by 2017.

Work on both projects was still subject to a variety of approvals, but detailed planning work was continuing, Guilford said.

"The aim is to start building [during] this Christmas break, so we can get as much done in a period that disruption to students is minimised."

Athfield Architects was involved in the design of the Rutherford House development, while Warren and Mahoney were working on the Kelburn campus redesign.

Guilford said that the investment was also about improving the student experience by creating a space for them at the Pipitea campus similar to the Hub at Kelburn. "By doing these projects, it frees up another building at the Kelburn campus, which will give us room for a second phase of development."

Acting Wellington mayor Andy Foster said the developments were excellent news for the city.

"Tertiary education is a really important part of the Wellington economy, and tertiary students are a really important part of the life and vitality of the city."

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- The Dominion Post

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