Tag Archives: News

Implications and likely policy changes under Labour-led Government

Since the Labour-led Government was established UC has been considering the implications and preparing for likely policy changes.

Among other actions we:

  • Have engaged with other universities and the TEC regarding the implementation of the proposed fees-free policy
  • Are preparing a briefing for incoming Ministers on the specific circumstances pertaining to the University of Canterbury following the earthquakes and our recovery and transformation plans
  • Have invited Ministers to key events and to visit campus
  • Are considering the implications of emerging policy positions such as regional development, research and immigration

As the fees-free policy is the most prominent of these in the public arena, I thought it worthwhile sharing with you our current messaging, in case you are receiving inquiries from students, friends or family – see below.

We will be continuing to monitor and engage with the new Government and to ensure that UC is well positioned to leverage opportunities that will arise.

Ngā mihi

Dr Rod Carr
Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae


Now that a Labour-led Government has taken office, Labour’s pre-election policy of a tuition fees-free first year of tertiary study is likely to take effect from 2018.

If you are an intending first year student, you may be wondering how this will work, and how it will impact on the financial side of your plans for University study in 2018.

The short answer is that we do not yet know for sure; the new Government has yet to confirm implementation of the policy, including exactly who would be eligible for tuition fees-free first year support, what exactly that support would cover (tuition fees, student services levies, field work course costs), and how (there are various possible options) the fees-free system would operate.

At this stage, we anticipate that the majority of domestic (i.e. non-International) students who are enrolling for their first year of tertiary study at University of Canterbury would be covered by any tuition fees-free policy if it came into effect. We expect that the fees that such a policy would cover are the tuition fees (course fees). We do not expect that fees-free would cover such things as accommodation or other living costs (i.e., Halls fees, student services levy).

One thing we do know for sure is that if tuition fees-free is coming into effect for 2018, Government ministers and their advisors are focussed on confirming the details as soon as possible over the next few weeks. We will be doing our bit to keep you up to date with this.

In the meantime, we suggest that you continue with your plans for study in the usual way, including, if applicable, accepting offers of places in colleges and scholarship offers, and commencing the application process for loans and/or allowance support via Studylink.

We look forward to welcoming you to University of Canterbury in 2018.

CPI for the year to 30 September 2017

Tēnā koutou katoa

The CPI for the year to 30 September 2017 is 1.9%>

This is therefore the 2018 across-the-board increase that those staff on our collective employment agreements, or on individual agreements that mirror the collectives, will receive.

Managers and Heads may find that this information provides useful context as they consider their GSRR recommendations.

Ngā mihi,
Paul O’Flaherty

Executive Director – Human Resources | Kaihautū Matua Pūmanawa Tangata

VC announcement

Tēnā koe,

I would like to let you know that I have advised the University Council that I will not be seeking a further term as VC when my current term expires on 1 February 2019.

This will initiate the search for a new VC by the University Council. It will not be my part to advocate for a new VC but I remain responsible for the delivery of our strategies and initiatives.

This is not the time to acknowledge those who have supported me but rather to encourage behaviours that promote the long-term interests of our community. We should be remembered not for our legacies but our trajectories.

Dr Rod Carr
Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae

Dark energy – UC supernova analysis reframes debate

The accelerating expansion of the Universe may not be real, but could just be an apparent effect, according to new research published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The new study—by a group at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand—finds the fit of Type Ia supernovae to a model universe with no dark energy to be very slightly better than the fit to the standard dark energy model.

Dark energy is usually assumed to form roughly 70% of the present material content of the Universe. However, this mysterious quantity is essentially a place-holder for unknown physics.

Current models of the Universe require this dark energy term to explain the observed acceleration in the rate at which the Universe is expanding. Scientists base this conclusion on measurements of the distances to supernova explosions in distant galaxies, which appear to be farther away than they should be if the Universe’s expansion were not accelerating.

However, just how statistically significant this signature of cosmic acceleration is has been hotly debated in the past year. The previous debate pitted the standard Lambda Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM) cosmology against an empty universe whose expansion neither accelerates nor decelerates. Both of these models though assume a simplified 100 year old cosmic expansion law—Friedmann’s equation.

Friedmann’s equation assumes an expansion identical to that of a featureless soup, with no complicating structure. However, the present Universe actually contains a complex cosmic web of galaxy clusters in sheets and filaments that surround and thread vast empty voids.

Professor David Wiltshire, who led the study from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, said, ”The past debate missed an essential point; if dark energy does not exist then a likely alternative is that the average expansion law does not follow Friedmann’s equation.”

Rather than comparing the standard ΛCDM cosmological model with an empty universe, the new study compares the fit of supernova data in ΛCDM to a different model, called the ’timescape cosmology’. This has no dark energy. Instead, clocks carried by observers in galaxies differ from the clock that best describes average expansion once the lumpiness of structure in the Universe becomes significant. Whether or not one infers accelerating expansion then depends crucially on the clock used.

The timescape cosmology was found to give a slightly better fit to the largest supernova data catalogue than the ΛCDM cosmology. Unfortunately the statistical evidence is not yet strong enough to rule definitively in favour of one model or the other, but future missions such as the European Space Agency’s Euclid satellite will have the power to distinguish between the standard cosmology and other models, and help scientists to decide whether dark energy is real or not.

Deciding that not only requires more data, but also better understanding  properties of supernovae which currently limit the precision with which they can be used to measure distances. On that score, the new study shows significant unexpected effects which are missed if only one expansion law is applied. Consequently, even as a toy model the timescape cosmology provides a powerful tool to test our current understanding, and casts new light on our most profound cosmic questions.

Simplifying UC’s identity and access management

The IAM programme aims to simplify and improve identity and access management for UC staff, students, and visitors to online resources and buildings.

 Identity Management is the way systems identify a person, who may have several log-ons,  email addresses and so on. Access Management ensures only the right people have access to online resources and campus facilities they are allowed to use. The project aims to bring these two elements together in a coherent way to improve user experience – to the point it is almost invisible.

The IAM programme has been running about six months and has already worked with a small number of teams across UC. It is beginning to broaden its involvement gathering information from departments and colleges, working steadily towards this year’s goals of information gathering and solution design. This will be the foundation for delivery of improvements, from next year.

The project team will provide a paper to UC governance groups in October detailing the approach for implementation of a preferred IAM solution from next year.

The Project Team can be contacted via the identityproject@canterbury.ac.nz email address.