Joining forces for clean energy and education

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Joint release: University of Canterbury and Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki. 

Two tertiary institutions are joining forces to support the transition to clean energy and improve accessibility to education in Taranaki.

The University of Canterbury (UC) Tumu Whakarae | Vice Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey and Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive John Snook have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a strategic partnership. The agreement creates opportunities for joint teaching and for students to move more easily from one institution to the other. The partnership will have a focus on sustainable energy, business studies and on supporting mana whenua tauira |Māori students.

“We believe that by working together and sharing our knowledge and expertise we can be more effective at co-creating real solutions for the challenges ahead,” Professor De la Rey says. “Taranaki is an early adopter in the transition to clean energy, moving away from fossil fuel industries, and we are looking forward to playing a part in the region’s ambitious Taranaki 2050 Roadmap. This could be an example for the rest of Aotearoa to achieve carbon emission goals while providing equitable transitions and sustainable community development.”

 The agreement brings opportunities for WITT students and the region, Snook says. “A key focus for WITT is to provide New Zealand with an Energy: Centre of Excellence, where innovation and sustainability in energy can be taught to students, allowing for the dramatic workforce transition asked of Aotearoa in the Net Zero Carbon Act.”

“The MOU with the University of Canterbury is a vital element to this challenge, as it allows for advanced research, teaching and learning to take place that benefits Taranaki and all of New Zealand. The Centre needs to attract full-time ‘energy’ workers into part-time education, full-time students into WITT’s Bachelor of Engineering, and those looking for a university qualification into a first year with WITT before proceeding to the likes of the University of Canterbury.”

The three-year agreement will encourage further co-operation in the areas of engineering and business at undergraduate and postgraduate level and will jointly develop courses that benefit the Taranaki community as the region moves away from fossil fuel industries.

The agreement is effective from semester one 2022.

The MOU comes as Aotearoa New Zealand joins world leaders at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties COP26 global meeting in Glasgow in an urgent bid to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to two degrees – or ideally to 1.5 degrees.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s target, or nationally determined contribution (NDC), to reduce net emissions by 50 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, requires urgent and comprehensive action.

Through provision of education, WITT is responding to the needs of industry by aligning the WITT strategy Te Korowai Mātauranga o Taranaki with the regional development priorities outlined in the Taranaki 2050 Roadmap and Tapuae Roa, the regional economic development strategy and action plan for Taranaki. The two organisations will also continue to work closely with Ara Ake, the Taranaki organisation supporting energy innovators on their journey to decarbonising Aotearoa.

Engagement is at the heart of UC’s strategic vision 2020-2030, which commits the university to working with mana whenua and across sectors locally and nationally, for the public good. Accessible, flexible and future-focused education, and world-leading research with impact are pillars of the University’s direction, along with environmental sustainability and fostering excellence, collaboration and innovation.

Amongst other sustainability goals, UC is on track to become carbon net neutral by 2030. The University recently co-hosted the national Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit Series, which helped to create a national SDG Alliance, an Aotearoa SDG Declaration and action plans for change.

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