When I was Mayor, I called the Chancellors and vice-Chancellors of the three South Island Universities to my office. I was promoting the concept of, instead of competing against each other, collaboration. I proposed that we form the Rutherford University of the South Island.
Unfortunately, they were so geared up to rip the shit out of each other (a bit like academics seem to enjoy doing all the time…) and were not remotely interested in even playing with the idea. They had developed a voracious appetite for chewing at each other’s throats.
Well, the time for us to reconsider collaboration is here. All Tertiary institutions. Why can’t we be the Island that gets it right? What’s wrong with the idea of the Rutherford Tertiary Institutions of Te Wai Pounamu?
There are going to be thousands of people out of work. People will need retraining. If both the Polytechs and the Universities started planning together we could send a message to the world, when it settles down, that this is the place which has got its act together and is a fine, stable and safe place where education is valued and fostered.
Imagine if under Regional Development parts of the Island was fostering new jobs through manufacturing and the use of data. Imagine if alongside those new jobs were the appropriate Tertiary institutions which were collaborating with each other, to make everybody thrive?