University of California's closer ties with Waikato

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2015
Mark Taylor
University of Waikato Vice Chancellor Neil Quigley and Chancellor Jim Bolger with University of California Vice Chancellor Bruce Varner sign a letter of intent.

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The University of Waikato has signed a deal with a Californian institution well over 10 times its size.

The University of California (UC) has 10 campuses and 235,000 students compared to the University of Waikato's 12,200.

The two institutions are going to tighten up existing ties to work more closely together, including in research.

They also plan to share knowledge in areas such as agribusiness, computer science and environmental science. Chair of the UC governing board Bruce Varner visited Waikato on Monday to sign a letter of intent.

"We want to look at how we can expand [existing agreements] and take advantage of bright minds working together," Varner said. He first learned about the University of Waikato through friend Paul Adams, a Tauranga developer and University council member.

"The more I read about it the more impressed I am." And while UC does have some agreements with the University of Auckland, Waikato "is the one we're focussing on for now". Students already go back and forth between the two universities on exchange programmes, and some staff members are researching together.

But the universities hope to ramp up exchanges in both directions and get entire departments of researchers working together in areas of common interest. They could include agriculture, marine biology, agribusiness and water conservation, Varner said.

As a public research institute, UC was keen to "access other people in the world who are bright minds", Varner said. And the deal would be a boost to Waikato research, vice-chancellor Neil Quigley said.

"There are opportunities to work with researchers in the US that have access to funding that we wouldn't have," he said.

Waikato academics could work as part of a UC-based team which would increase awareness of the work Waikato was doing. The university would also look to develop support to underpin existing arrangements, Quigley said.

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- Waikato Times

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