It’s already coming up to four years since the February 22nd earthquake in 2011 that so drastically changed circumstances at the University of Canterbury. Although the changes may have seemed slow for those of us who stuck it out for the last four years, a lot of progress has been made and now 2015 is set to be the best year yet since the quakes. Talking to the ever bubbly and optimistic UC Students’ Association (UCSA) President Sarah Platt about the upcoming year has me feeling excited about the future at UC, and also jealous of new students beginning their studies here in 2015. Not least because of the amazing opportunity for new full-time domestic students to have a return airfare paid next year for an exchange to an international partner university – subject to ‘satisfactory academic progress’ of course. But it’s a great incentive, which Sarah agrees is “an incredible opportunity that people should take full advantage of”.
Something else to keep an eye on is the old UCSA building on Ilam Road. According to Sarah, this year there will be “some tangible progress with our UCSA building. I think for us that is the number one thing at the UCSA that we’ll be focusing on in 2015”. From talking to Sarah I get the sense that 2015 will be the year that the University of Canterbury will emerge from its earthquake-damaged image and finally showcase its new direction. Sarah excitedly spoke about the upcoming year, saying “2015 is the first year that the University’s really had control of their own destiny – with our insurance settlement and all of these sorts of things – we finally get to take control and actually have some key direction in where we want to go and where we see this university campus taking us in the next few years, which I think is a fantastic opportunity”.
Despite some interruptions at University, the response to the UCSA’s 2014 survey of student’s health and well-being suggests students are certainly making the most of campus life. Over half of the respondents indicated that they are a member of at least one of the clubs on campus, which is a testament to the vibrant and unique campus culture at UC. According to Sarah “we have over 135 clubs, so there is definitely something for everyone”. And the wide range of clubs is only a small part of UC’s fantastic student culture. Sarah says “student life at UC is the best on offer in New Zealand because of our campus culture, it’s unmatched. There is something for everybody here and it’s a really inclusive campus and one that is really easy to get involved with. I think that’s something that’s not really replicated anywhere else in New Zealand”.
So if you’re about to join us at UC in 2015, get excited, and lucky you! It’s a really exciting time with lots of improvements to the campus as well as a lot of amazing new opportunities available. Sarah’s advice is to “get involved in everything that is on offer here”, so make sure you do! See my full video interview with Sarah here…