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Vision 2040 will guide the University of Otago's path confidently into the future.

The Bulletin is taking a deep dive into Vision 2040, looking at how the new strategic direction will impact the University. We're asking our senior leaders what they hope the University of Otago will look like in 17 years time. We launched this series with the Chancellor, Stephen Higgs, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Murdoch. We then heard from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Helen Nicholson and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie. This week, we hear from 2023 Otago University Students' Association President Quintin Jane and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Tony Ballantyne.

2023 Otago University Students' Association President Quintin Jane

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2023 Otago University Students' Association Quintin Jane says students should understand and be energised by Vision 2040.

2023 President of the Otago University Students' Association, Quintin Jane, is excited that students have a much higher profile in the University's new strategic direction.

Transformative learning, student-responsive learning practices and more engagement with students are all outlined in Vision 2040.

“It's exciting. It's about being a university which is reflective of Aotearoa, in partnership with mana whenua and providing an outstanding student experience for every student.”

University should not just be a place to get a piece of paper, Quintin says. His vision for 2040 is for an Otago which has “accessible learning spaces for students of all backgrounds and all learning abilities who all have different reasons for coming here”.

“We should be more than just another Western academic institution – we should be reflective of New Zealand and all students should feel welcome and supported here.”

Quintin believes students should understand and be energised by the new strategy.

“Our job at OUSA is to make sure the University achieves the awesome things aspired to in the Vision. The University has been pretty ambitious, and we need to support that but also make sure the changes are the experiences that our students want.”

What can students do to help?

“We need active positive participation to help the University as it changes its teaching modes. Students are being gifted the opportunity to help shape their own future and that of the students to come – an opportunity to co-design.”

“Whether you're new or have been here for some time, it's important to contribute as the University is going to change, even in the next three years.”

“I'll always have the University of Otago on my degree – I want to remain proud of that and I will be if we achieve the vision laid out in this strategy,” Quintin says.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Helen Nicholson agrees that the new Vision has a strong focus on equity, and on student outcomes.

“Learner success pathways that meet diverse student needs and strengthened pastoral and academic care are clearly outlined.

“It's also very important to us to work closely with the student body, and to listen, hear and action student voice.

“The strategy affirms our commitment to research informed teaching and transformative learning. We expect all our teaching to be informed by the latest research, bringing information into our lectures and classes from our own researchers and around the globe to ensure our students are learning at the forefront of their subject area.

“We also want to provide learning that is creative and innovative, that inspires our students to discover more. Part of the unique journey we provide at Otago as a residential campus university is the growth of young adults, and our teaching should be part of that. We want to serve our students by helping them understand themselves through our teaching, to interpret the society they live in and to develop autonomous thinking.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Tony Ballantyne

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Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Tony Ballantyne says a true 'University of the Pacific' means a university that understands its history and location, and values its relationships across the region.

Taking our place in Aotearoa New Zealand, in the Pacific, and on the global stage are key drivers to Vision 2040 from an external engagement viewpoint.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Tony Ballantyne says the new strategy has a deliberate, conscious ambition for the University of Otago to take our place in the world – with a particular emphasis on being a truly Pacific university.

“We have an existing reputation built on a robust foundation of truly excellent teaching and research. That is our durable, consistent feature.

“But historically, Pākehā New Zealand looked over the Pacific and Asia to Europe for guidance and inspiration. Today, we want to consciously place ourselves in our neighbourhood and recognise the weight of our historic relationships and commitments in the Pacific.

“We exist as a knowledge community which emphasises the deep value of being connected. We want to be part of regional and global conversations, not just sitting on the margins.

To do that we need to embrace the opportunities that come from our distinctive contributions to those conversations.

“A true 'University of the Pacific' means a university that understands its history and location and values its relationships across the region.

“We want to be an institution that recognises the strengths of our significant community of Pacific staff, students, and stakeholders and one that is committed to being a part of a regional conversation and understands where it might make an important contribution.

“That contribution should start by being a good listener, to being open to hearing and learning from the people of the Pacific.

“As we look towards 2040, Pacific thought traditions are particularly important to us. We need to be a community that recognises the cultural and intellectual riches and dynamism of the region which is our home and cast aside colonial thinking.”

Professor Ballantyne notes Vision 2040 looks further afield, as well.

“Both within the guiding principles and in our graduate attributes in the strategy is a clear push for global citizenship, to be part of international knowledge communities, to recognise we are part of the human community.

“And that the human community is facing a whole range of complex challenges which we can only overcome through cross-cultural engagement, cooperation between institutions, collaboration between knowledge traditions. Threats to democracy, COVID-19, climate change, deep-seated technological change – are all examples of these.

“Our teaching, research and our campus culture are all greatly enriched by global connections. Our research is always collaborative, even if undertaken by an individual, because it will form part of a global conversation. Our teaching is based on globally connected research but should also reflect best practice internationally. And our campus culture is enriched by having international students who bring a different cultural perspective to the discussions and engagement in our classrooms.”

Imagining himself in 2040, Professor Ballantyne envisages three outcomes:

“That we are a community that is strongly connected in New Zealand to its key communities and stakeholders, to mana whenua and Māori communities, to the Pacific community, to those communities who host our campuses, and to New Zealand as a whole. We should be at the forefront of New Zealand cultural and intellectual life. To achieve that we have to deeply engage with te Ao Māori, to champion te Reo Māori, and to have deep connections to our Te Tiriti partner.

“That in the Pacific region we will have grown and deepened our connections. That our Pacific staff and students are visible and successful, and key leaders in the University, and that our university community is confident in its Pacific identity. A key measure here will be that Pacific languages and culture are naturally part of campus life.

“And finally, that on the global stage, the University has extended its reputation for excellence not only based on quality research, teaching, and its distinctive residential undergraduate experience, but also as an excellent international institutional partner and participant in global networks. To do that most effectively, we also need to be mobilising the strength of our location, and to be engaged with te Ao Māori, and the vitality of Pacific knowledge traditions.”

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