The future wellbeing and development of a society are dependent upon the skills and capabilities of the people living in it. Research-led universities will play a pivotal role in enabling this future. Most developed countries, and many developing countries, value highly their leading research universities and invest heavily in their enhancement. They understand that outstanding graduates will go on to have a positive impact in their communities and that research contributes to social, economic and environmental development. They recognize that opportunities created for under-represented communities to access the benefits of higher education and the provision of independent public comment on issues of importance to society lead to appreciable benefits across society. In addition, they appreciate that universities foster international relationships through research and education, and provide a substantial public infrastructure in order to maintain and strengthen their institutions.
The University of Auckland is ranked internationally as New Zealand’s leading university and among the top six to eight universities in Australasia. Established in 1883 as a constituent college of the University of New Zealand, placing the advantages of a university education “within the reach of every man and woman of Auckland”1, it is now a large, comprehensive public university, grounded in its civic roots in New Zealand’s most diverse city. The University’s leading position in New Zealand has been achieved by the efforts and excellence of its people, past and present. However, no university in New Zealand is ranked among the top 50 in the world. The ongoing challenge facing the university, therefore, is to ensure that New Zealand has a major international university that provides a learning environment of the highest quality, leading the advancement of knowledge creation and dissemination, intellectual discovery and innovation, and taking a place on the global stage as a valued peer of the best public civic universities.
The University of Auckland was formally opened on 23 May 1883 as Auckland University College, part of the University of New Zealand. A disused courthouse and jail served as premises for the 95 students and four teaching staff. The roll increased slowly but steadily during the remainder of the 19th century; by 1901 it had risen to 156 students. Most students were enrolled part-time, training as teachers or law clerks, although after 1905 the number of commerce students rose markedly. During this time, the University focused on teaching: research was not expected, and was rarely performed by teaching staff. Nevertheless, some students carried out impressive early research, most notably in chemistry.
Able students, successful graduates and alumni
The most significant impact we have on society results from the enhanced capabilities of our graduates. As a university of international standing we must be committed to advancing learning and developing intellectual independence across a comprehensive portfolio of academic programmes, from undergraduate through to advanced postgraduate research. The education we offer must draw on cutting-edge knowledge, integrate teaching and learning with the research strengths of staff, make the best use of new teaching, learning and information technologies, challenge and excite students, and enable them to achieve the graduate profile appropriate to their area and level of study. By attracting students of high academic potential and providing them with an outstanding university experience, both educational and extracurricular, we will help them to become successful and influential graduates and alumni who are a positive force in the world of the future.