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MIL OSI – Source: University of Waikato – Universities of Waikato, California to deepen ties

The chair of UC Regents, the board that governs the University of California, is to sign an agreement with the University of Waikato to widen collaboration between the two.

The University of California has 10 campuses, 235,000 students, 190,000 staff and contributes $46 billion to the Californian economy. Bruce Varner, the Chair of UC’s Board of Regents, is visiting the University of Waikato at the end of March to deepen existing ties between the two organisations.

Close ties between University of California and University of Waikato

UC and the University of Waikato have had a long-standing arrangement for the exchange of students, and some academics from the two organisations already work together. This is set to broaden into deeper research collaborations and sharing of knowledge in key common areas.

These interests include areas such as coastal marine and freshwater, environmental science, sport, indigenous studies, agribusiness, computer science, management and education. “We have top people at the University of California and they are always looking at ways to enhance what they are doing,” Mr Varner says. Research into efficiencies in the growing of crops is one example of areas in which two organisations could work together, he says.

Research strengths aligned with University of California

Mr Varner is excited about the potential for University of California academics to work more formally with the University of Waikato in the coming years; he envisages an accord that evolve naturally over time.

“All universities are about creating knowledge and disseminating knowledge, and I have been reading of some impressive research at Waikato,” he says. “Size doesn’t matter – I see plenty of natural affiliations between our two organisations.”

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley says while Waikato may run a much smaller model of university, it has built a reputation in its first 50 years of tackling some of the world’s big problems of today and tomorrow. Many of its research strengths are strongly aligned with the University of California’s, he says.

“We are already altering thinking and outcomes with some of the research being done at Waikato. Closer ties with the University of California will enable our reach and our influence to be felt even further afield.”

Staff and students to benefit

Professor Quigley says several staff at the two universities are already engaged in joint research programmes and benefit from a good relationship. “This agreement will build on these successful collaborations.”

Students also already benefit from a formal exchange programme between the two organisations and Mr Varner is keen that more UC students take up the opportunity to spend some time studying at the University of Waikato.

“This is something I’m really passionate about. It’s important for students to have the opportunity to go to other universities and engage with other students. It broadens and really enhances their experience of university.”

Mr Varner is visiting New Zealand in late March and April as a guest of Tauranga developer Paul Adams CNZM who is also a University of Waikato Council member.

Mr Varner will hold discussions with the University of Waikato and sign a letter of intent around the closer ties.