The backers of an IT teaching institute in Taupo, to be called Taupo University College, say it will open its doors in 2002. They plan to have 4000 full-time students within 10 years.
“We’ll start off with 100 students in the first year of our bachelor of information technology degree,” says Taupo Development Trust economic development manager Andrew Montgomerie.
The Taupo District Council has been working with University of Limerick in Ireland and Victoria University in Wellington on the development of a niche learning institute focused on information technology.
The trust that will run the university college is owned by the council and the local iwi, Ngati Tuwharetoa, who have been supportive of the project since the beginning, says Montgomerie. The curriculum is being written and will be taught by lecturers from both Victoria and Limerick. A foundation course will be offered at both local Taupo secondary schools in an effort to provide enough students for the first intake. These will start during the 2001 teaching year.
“Fees haven’t been set yet but we will be charging a premium for places. This is to be the pre-eminent centre for IT learning in the country,” says Montgomerie.
The college will initially teach in temporary facilities, probably a conference centre in Taupo, but hopes to build its own campus within two years. This will form the hub of a technology park, and companies like Jade, Microsoft and Ericsson have expressed an interest in taking part.
Because the college will be a satellite of Victoria University, it won’t have to struggle for university status. The government has put a lid on the number of institutions that can call themselves universities.
The head of Victoria’s school of communications, Rowena Cullen, says it’s a great opportunity for the Wellington-based university to increase its roll.
“Naturally it [Taupo University College] will help increase the size of the university, but at the same time it will be helping to bridge the ‘digital divide’.”
Cullen, whose faculty is responsible for for the venture, says the location of the university college in rural Taupo as well as the involvement of local iwi means the school has a double role in bridging the gap.