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World Vision continues working with the University

Wednesday 29 July 2015 8:59pm

At a successful MoU re-signing held at the University this week are (back row, from left) McAuley Professor of International Health Philip Hill, Zoology’s Professor Jon Waters, Howard Paterson Professor of Theology and Public Issues David Tombs, and Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Business School Professor George Benwell, (front row) Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne and World Vision CEO Chris Clarke. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

This week the University of Otago re-signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with World Vision.

The MoU, originally signed in 2013, is a first for a New Zealand academic institution and the New Zealand office of World Vision.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne acknowledged the value of the partnership and welcomed re-signing the MoU.

"The partnership provides us with the opportunity to harness the incredible research expertise that comes out of Otago and channel it into long-lasting change in New Zealand and around the world."

“Our partnership with World Vision reflects the University’s strategic vision to engage with the community and it allows us to use our research skills and expertise to help fight global poverty,” Professor Hayne said. “Working with World Vision also provides staff and students with valuable opportunities to contribute on the world stage.

“It has been a fruitful partnership for both parties, and I am grateful to Chris and his team and to staff from all four academic divisions at Otago who are making this relationship work so well.”

World Vision New Zealand CEO Chris Clarke said he is pleased to be working with the University.

“The partnership provides us with the opportunity to harness the incredible research expertise that comes out of Otago and channel it into long-lasting change in New Zealand and around the world.

“The University has been unbelievably generous to World Vision and our people. We have had open access to all the different areas, and it has meant so much for us to have access to a diverse range of experts who offer research rigour.

"We have over 46,000 staff in almost 100 countries, and it’s a great opportunity for us all to share our expertise. The support from the University has been incredibly valuable to our work in the field. We also have PhD students studying here at Otago, and there are more opportunities in the pipeline. I think we are only just scratching the surface of what we can achieve and I think there is much more to come.”

Otago Business School's relationship with World Vision

The Otago Business School’s partnership with World Vision is already paying off for some Otago Business School students.

World Vision has taken part in the Otago Business’s summer intern programme, offering six different projects in World Vision New Zealand’s Auckland office over the summer.

Since the MoU was first signed, international World Vision directors from Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza, Uganda and Myanmar have been on campus to present on Third World development: opportunities and challenges.

Otago Business School Professor in Economics, David Fielding, whose research interests include studying aid into developing countries, says there is considerable potential to develop and expand both the student connection and the research contribution to help World Vision in its role.

“There’s a huge amount of value in being connected with a very large, multi-million dollar global leader – it’s exciting to be leading the way in new developments that link commerce with the not-for-profit sector,” he says.

The Otago Business School has specialist capability in several areas that will be of value to World Vision, including study into the economics of low income countries. Several researchers are already working on projects in the not-for-profit sector, and students are engaged including a tutoring initiative called 100 percent, run by medical student Crystal Diong. The tutors donate their fees to World Vision.

There are many ways this current capacity could be further developed to assist with specific World Vision needs, such as its requirement for lean administration, and its desire to establish strong life-time client relationships with the people who donate to World Vision campaigns.

This could mean projects like helping with impact evaluation research on World Vision’s marketing.

“And at a student level, we find most of our students now want a range of experiences that extend beyond the classroom or sports field. This partnership helps us to offer a wider education experience to a new generation of young people motivated by values beyond just a salary,” Professor Fielding says.

“Many students come into university already connected with a charity or keen to explore volunteering options. The World Vision initiative offers links into a world-leading organisation that has many voluntary or career-developing pathways.”