Uni spends $600,000,000 on infrastructure

"Signals the fact that the University is in really good heart"

Dunedin’s construction industry stands to benefit from more than six hundred million dollars in expenditure by the University on infrastructure, as well as the creation of hundreds of jobs.

Chief Operating Officer John Patrick revealed the gargantuan figure at the University Council’s meeting on 25 February. Much of the work will begin in the next two years, including a major refurbishment of the University’s dental school which is “likely to be the single-largest project ever undertaken by the University.”

The updated amount marks more than a $242 million increase on the University’s 2012 projections of $358 million for construction projects. This figure covered the 2012-2020 period, and at the time the information included 22 projects in the University’s priority development plan, of which 20 are in Dunedin.

The ODT reported that Naylor Love Construction chief executive Rick Herd considered the University’s building programme as a “major shot in the arm” for all construction industry participants, including main contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. He said it was important to look at “a sustainable construction industry … [so people] aren’t going to have come in for those projects and leave again, because there is nothing else afterwards.”

Herd also said that while the construction industry in New Zealand was “generally on the up,” Dunedin had been “lagging a little bit.” He said that the University’s revelation was “very encouraging,” and could be seen as a “renewed level of opportunity in Dunedin.”

The expenditure and pending industry benefits come in the wake of the University’s announcement that last year’s operating surplus amounted to $36.5 million. According to University officials, this was largely down to “one-off” benefits, including $8 million of insurance payouts for the University’s Christchurch medical school. The University also celebrated the success of publicly listed biotechnology company Pacific Edge Ltd, which originated at the University and enjoyed almost $2.5 million from an increase in the value of its shareholding at year-end.

The University finished 2013 debt-free, with a disposable $92.3 million on hand. This will contribute to the future construction projects to be seen around campus.

Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne appears to be excited with the developments, projecting a timespan of five to eight years for the refurbishments. “It’s an incredibly ambitious series of building projects and really just signals the fact that the University is in really good heart,’’ she said. “We are looking at some of the biggest capital development this University has ever seen.”
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2014.
Posted 4:44pm Sunday 2nd March 2014 by Thomas Raethel and Claudia Herron.