University charts future in ‘choppy waters’

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington has released a far-reaching report that explores responses to the challenges confronting it and other universities nationally and internationally. The report—He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka: Navigating choppy waters: Te Herenga Waka to 2025—considers how the University can continue to be a great global-civic university in the future, in the face of many global uncertainties.

Although prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report looks broadly towards other drivers of change—such as the climate crisis, geopolitical tensions, and social change—and the potential impact of these on the University over the next five years.

Provost Professor Wendy Larner says the University can be very proud of the report and the thinking and collaboration that underpins it. “International futures experts we consulted have described this report as one of the most exciting examples of futures work they have seen. Many people in our community have contributed their energy, creativity and commitment to this work, which has delivered us rich and informed material to guide us through the choppy waters that lie ahead.”

The key recommendation in the report is the adoption of Ngā Herenga, a set of ten design principles to help develop specific responses to the future. These are that the University is place-based, integrated, inclusive, and agile; and that it fosters creativity, wellbeing, whanaungatanga (connection), kaitiakitanga (stewardship), rangatiratanga (self-determination), in a flexible and fit-for-purpose environment. The design principles will inform how the University delivers on its strategic plan.

He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka was authored by a cross-university team following extensive internal engagement. Staff and students were asked to imagine how they would like the University to look in the future. A horizon scan, analysis of external drivers, and systems map of people, organisations and sectors to which the university is connected were also developed. The collective vision for 2025 was then tested against macro drivers of change. Provost Professor Wendy Larner describes the engagement as “deeply participatory”, with more than one thousand staff and students involved in focus groups, surveys, forums and workshops. Professor Larner says the report positions the University strongly as it embarks on the journey to 2025.