The launch of a technology university planned for Taupo is likely to be delayed by up to a year after a parting-of-the-ways with Victoria University.
The backers of Taupo University College, Lake Taupo Development Company, are now looking for new academic partners after the deal with Victoria fell through.
Lake Taupo Development Company is owned by Lake Taupo Development Trust, which was set up by Taupo District Council. Taupo mayor Joan Williamson and Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu Te Heuheu are both board members of the trust. The University of Limerick in Ireland is contributing advice and expertise in the form of computer engineering professor Eamonn McQuade, who is spending his sabbatical in Taupo working on getting the university off the ground.
McQuade says the Lake Taupo Development Company signed a preliminary agreement with Victoria University last September which would have seen the Taupo University College run as a satellite of Victoria. But negotiations between the parties broke down, he says, as Lake Taupo Development Company wanted to maintain financial control and run the institute as a company. He says he is now talking to a number of other universities in and outside New Zealand about joining the venture.
He admits that the “frustrating” breakdown has set up the project six months to a year, but says when it comes to setting up a university such delays are “neither here nor there”. The initial plan was to open the university’s doors next year but this probably won’t happen, he says.
However in the interim, the company may next year start running transitional pre-university courses designed to prepare people for university technology studies. These will probably be run out of rented premises in town, he says.
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The company also hopes to establish a technology park and McQuade says Jade, Microsoft and Ericsson have expressed an interest.