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Consolidating the research and expertise of two departments, Otago’s new School of Computing will be based in the Sciences Division.

A new School of Computing has been established at the University of Otago that brings together two former departments, Computer Science and Information Science.

Formally established on 1 August 2023, the new School of Computing will deliver an academic programme that builds on the competitive strengths of the two former Departments across the technical aspects of computer science.

Division of Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barker says it’s long been understood that the two departments have had considerable overlap in their research and teaching interests but a barrier to building strength through consolidation has been the University’s divisional structure.

“I would like to particularly thank the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Division of Commerce, Professor Maree Thyne, for her leadership in helping bring the establishment of the new school in Sciences to fruition,” Professor Barker says.

“The School of Computing provides a great opportunity to consolidate the research and teaching expertise of the departments and develop their combined strengths to align with the core strengths of the University including Health Sciences.”

Former head of departments, Associate Professors’ Grant Dick (Information Science) and Steven Mills (Computer Science) agree that individually their former Departments have been small but high-performing, and there has been increasing collaboration in research, teaching, and outreach activities over recent years.

Associate Professor Dick says multiple joint programmes are already taught between the two departments, and in research the fields have evolved so much over time that the boundaries between Computer Science and Information Science have blurred.

“Bringing these two groups together will provide critical mass and provide a clear focus for Computing at Otago,” Associate Professor Mills adds. “As a unified School we can provide a single destination for students, collaborators, and industry partners who are interested in Computing at Otago.”

Initially the two former departments will continue as programmes in the new School however the development of a new programme and curriculum will be a priority. Professor Barker says work will soon begin on aligning the two programmes, and include looking at staffing and curriculum needs.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been developed with the Division of Commerce where the Department of Information Science was previously based, and the appointment of a new head of the School is currently being undertaken and will be announced shortly.

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