Wherever in the world you are, I hope this edition of Insight finds you and your whānau safe and well.
This issue focuses on many of our alumni, staff and students who, despite dealing with the unprecedented consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures, have continued to influence change and have made a significant impact on their communities, countries and professions.
Here at AUT, I’d like to think that the University also continued to adapt to our new COVID environment. Our staff moved swiftly and successfully, delivering an excellent online learning experience to thousands of students across 900 papers. To ensure all students were in the best position possible to continue learning remotely, we also provided 924 laptops and 966 internet connection packages to students who needed them.
We continued to produce research during this transition and secured an impressive $33.8 million in new research contracts during the year. Our researchers found ways to continue with their existing work, which includes securing our largest ever individual research grant - an $8 million, five-year investigation into enhancing urban regeneration – as well as contributing to the wider COVID-19 work, locally, nationally and internationally.
As you will be aware, the closure of New Zealand borders has forced many overseas based international students to postpone or change their study plans. We miss the diversity of perspectives and experiences that our international students bring to our classrooms. While a small number of our international students have been able to return, we look forward to all of our international students coming back to AUT.
2020 was certainly not the year we thought it would be. Indeed, we had planned to mark AUT’s 20th anniversary and celebrate this significant milestone. While these celebrations didn’t take place, it is important to acknowledge AUT’s progress in the last two decades. Beginning as an unranked university, we are now in the top 300 in the world, and have become New Zealand’s second largest and third-ranked university. Our students learn in an environment that is deeply engaged with our business, industry and community partners, where they can test and apply the knowledge they have gained. We have developed an excellent international reputation, and research that is used by organisations around the world to address important issues facing our environment and society.
While much has changed over the past year, I am proud that through it all our staff have continued to demonstrate a deep commitment to our students and their success.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Insight.
Auckland University of Technology