University of Auckland launches country's biggest fundraising campaign

University of Auckland vice chancellor Stuart McCutcheon (Photo: Tinaz Karbhari)

Auckland University vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon explains how $300m in donations will be spent

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The University of Auckland launched the country’s biggest fundraising campaign to raise $300 million to address critical challenges in society and the economy.

The money will be used for research projects, scholarships and teaching resources to answer such questions including whether the country can be earthquake-proofed, the economy made more robust or lives transformed with creativity.

Donors have already committed some $152 million to health, medical, environmental and business research, including businessman George Mason with $5 million toward a Centre for the Natural Environment.

Hong Kong billionaire Solina Chau and consultancy PwC have each contributed $1 million toward PotentiaLab for business innovation and the Woolf Fisher Trust is supporting improvements in maths teaching with a $1.6 million donation.

The University's vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, says the extra funds will generate and accelerate research more comprehensively and quickly than would otherwise be the case.

Focus on the big issues
“Our donors want us to focus on the big issues and they want to help us to do that,” he says.

“Future generations will have to face challenges that now seem intractable – climate change, unequal access to health care and education, the emergence of new diseases and an ageing population.

“The natural interest that people have in particular diseases and improvement in human health does lead to the medical faculty being a big recipient.”

It already has $23.7 million in donations, including $2.5 million from Auckland Medical Research Foundation for a “scholars fund” to recruit talented medical academics globally.

The campaign, called For All Our Futures, will run until 2020 and the funds will be managed by the university’s foundations.

Donations will be used either as spending on current activity or as an endowment – a capital sum from which returns are generated in perpetuity.

The University of Auckland was this week ranked 165th in the world in the Times Higher Education's latest survey, up from 172nd last year, out of 980 international institutions. Auckland was ranked 81st in another list, the QS World University Rankings, earlier this month.


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"The University of Auckland was this week ranked 165th in the world in the Times Higher Education's latest survey, up from 162nd last year, out of 980 international institutions."

How is this up? Only when you're spinning it.

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Exactly. It used to be 156 when I worked there, and I have a funny feeling it has been ranked even lower than that in the past as well. Look let's not fool ourselves. A small country like New Zealand is not going to have a University ranked in the top 50. Maybe not even in the top 75. But as an English speaking democracy with strong historic and contemporary educational links to the other English speaking democracies and their Universities, we should aim to have at least one of our Universities in the top 100. Of that, with the right will and policies, we should be able to do.

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Australia have 8 universities rated above Auckland. Which tends to indicate that our Universities are under performing.

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"A small country like New Zealand is not going to have a University ranked in the top 50." Not true... look at Hong Kong and Singapore. They both have world class universities ranked way above ours. It's a matter of national will... do we want it enough to retain our best and brightest? At the moment, most of our best and brightest go north for opportunities... sad, really.

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An error crept in – it should have been 172nd.

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Get rid of Jane Kelsey and Margaret Mutu, plus others of their left-wing anti-business ilk, and the money will start to flow.

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Arrogant. To hell with all of the other universities research organisations in NZ. Let's capture the high ground and the money. So much for collaboration. Can't see them raising a brass razoo from south of the Bombay Hills.

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Seems also like a sad symptom of our failure to invest enough into our universities and their research, that they're moving yet further toward more American models.

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For what it is worth we decided to put our daughter through private education. Even though we lived in the Eastern Suburbs the school that she was assigned to was a very low decile so we bit the bullet and have paid in the region of over 130k for our daughters education and trust me it has been one hell of a struggle but in the end it has been worth it. The only issue that I have is that the college continually asks us for donations for this and donations for that and in the end you feel very awkward when you have no.

I agree that funding should be done by NZ Inc. but importantly the government. Cut down on the junkets, invest in education it seems clear that we seem to be very generous on projects and donations that do not bring revenue back in to NZ.

However please, please do not sell our education out. If overseas businesses invest there should be no reciprocal agreements etc. as we know how this will all end a university not for New Zealanders.

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This saddens me. Parents should not be having to pay $130k for a decent school education for their child. Our education system needs some serious attention, beyond the ideological dilly-dallying Hekia Parata brings. Perhaps we should make it a requirement that the children of politicians attend state schools only, so we see better attention being given to our schools.

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