Quake-hit university to get help

The University of Canterbury says the Government has agreed to provide support to help ensure the tertiary institution remains financially viable in the medium to long term.

The university's situation needs to be treated with some urgency, vice-chancellor Rod Carr says.

The quakes have hit the university hard, causing student numbers to fall, and insurance costs to skyrocket.

The university, in a statement, said the Government had confirmed its agreement in principle, subject to a more detailed business case to determine the level of support to be provided.

The support would be to help the university address the financial impacts of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes by providing capital support to advance its science and engineering capabilities.

Carr said the university appreciated the Government's understanding of the institution's situation and its recognition of the need for support.

"I would like to acknowledge the Government for the pace at which it has considered our business case, for recognising the significant contribution (the University of Canterbury) makes locally and nationally; and for its commitment to support the university post-earthquake".

"We will work with the Government to determine the optimum level and options for support. This will need to be treated with some urgency to ensure that the university remains financially viable in the medium to long term."

Payments to University of Canterbury bondholders would not be affected by this announcement, he said.

The university on August 1 announced that following the preparation of long term forecasts, it would be seeking Government support. But it first asked Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce for help in late 2011 in a 65-page initial business case.

Chancellor John Wood today said the university welcomed the Government's confirmation of support for the university's business case.

The university had also engaged with and received broad based endorsement from South Island iwi Ngai Tahu and a wide range of educational, business and community leaders.

''We believe that a strong university goes hand in hand with a robust, cohesive and growing economy and community,'' Wood said.

''We are committed to supporting the recovery of Christchurch. Government support will help us do that even more effectively."

The university said the Government's commitment was an outcome of its ''UC Futures'' project which developed the university's post-earthquake strategy to transform itself through closer partnerships with groups including the business sector, secondary schools, partner institutions, Crown research institutes and other tertiary education providers.

Carr said another important component of the university's plan was a commitment to engage in the central city health and innovation precincts.

"It reflects our vision of a university that isn't just a place students come to when they want a degree. We see a university that is a learning environment well connected with the local community."

Carr said the commitment from the Government reinforced the need for the university to do what it could to ensure a sustainable future.

"With work on campus remediation well and truly underway, a busy enrolment period and this commitment from the Government, we can take heart that the university is making good progress towards recovery from the events of the past two years."

The Press