Auckland University and Auckland College of Education to merge

  • Steve Maharey

The proposed merger of the Auckland College of Education with the University of Auckland will go ahead from 1 September 2004, Education Minister Trevor Mallard and Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

Trevor Mallard said the merger had clear educational benefits which would flow onto students in schools.

"By combining Auckland University’s research focus with the college’s professional practice focus we will be able to train high quality teachers that are better suited to New Zealand’s needs than can be trained by either institution operating independently," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Labour-led government is committed to lifting educational standards and reducing the disparities between our best school students and those who do not perform so well. We need highly-trained teachers because we know that it is the quality of teaching that is the single greatest influence on students' achievement within the classroom. Combining the strengths of these two institutions will help us in delivering on this goal.

"The merger will:
·build the professional capability of teachers to meet national educational priorities and support high quality educational leadership;
·create a world-class centre for teacher education research which will underpin and support educational policy and development; and
·produce graduates with the research, subject expertise and educational understandings to enable them to teach in ways that reduce current disparities in educational achievement."

Steve Maharey said public submissions were predominately supportive of the merger.

"There are substantial benefits to the college of partnering with a research-led institution such as the University of Auckland. For example, the business case submitted by the merger partners outlines plans to develop a world class institute of educational research with a view to becoming a Centre of Excellence that will make a significant impact on educational policy and practice. Post merger, the university plans to invest the merger’s efficiency gains into more research and more scholarships.

“This merger is consistent with the approach proposed in the Tertiary Education Commission's Distinctive Contributions of Tertiary Education Organisations consultation document which looks for ways to ensure pre-service teacher education and professional development is enhanced by research.

"We congratulate the university and the college for having the vision and strength of character to put the proposal together. The logic of the proposal was compelling," Steve Maharey said.

The university and the college have been assessing options for greater collaboration since 2002, culminating in a joint merger proposal to government in October 2003. It is expected that the combined institution will have a total roll of over 30,000 students. In 2003 the university enrolled 27,205 equivalent full-time students (including 837 EFTS at its School of Education) and the college enrolled 2,962 EFTS.

The college’s Epsom site will become the primary home of the new Faculty of Education, but it will retain the current college’s outlying campuses at Kaikohe and Whangarei and the university’s programmes at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

At the point of merger, all college students will become university students. The university intends to employ all the college staff on the conditions and terms of employment existing at the point of merger.