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Support for study of Islam

New Zealand’s first national centre for Islamic studies has gained crucial government funding.

The joint venture between Otago and Victoria universities has been awarded more than $350,000 in the inaugural round of the Encouraging and Supporting Innovation Fund.

The Tertiary Education Commission announced yesterday that 29 projects from around the country would receive a total of $18.8 million in funding over three years.

Canterbury University received the largest grant of $3m for its project Partnering for Innovation in Technology-Based Business.

The new Islamic Centre will offer the country’s first BA majoring in Islamic Studies and a postgraduate diploma.

It will also provide specialist advice to the private and public sectors and develop an outreach programme of lectures, seminars and conferences.

Otago University Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Skegg, said there was a need for greater knowledge and understanding of the Islamic world.

The Canterbury business technology project, in conjunction with the Universities of Lincoln and Otago, is aimed at encouraging staff and students to embrace entrepreneurship.

An integrated programme of new roles and ideas — such as entrepreneurs-in-residence, seminars and industry groups — will be the driving force behind the project.

Otago University was also granted nearly $2m for its recently launched Centre for Sustainable Cities.

The centre’s goal is to promote wellbeing and health through smarter economic development, safer and more sustainable housing, transport and energy systems and enhanced urban design.

The Otago Polytechnic is linking with the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in a scheme to increase the number of midwives.

The project’s $270,000 in funding will help the polytechs address the country’s shortage of midwives which research has found will worsen over the coming decade.

Victoria, Canterbury, Otago and Auckland universities have also succeeded in getting joint funding for a project called Engaging with China.

The plan is to create a National China Research Centre in collaboration with leading Chinese universities.

Researchers will look at New Zealand-China relations, marketing and business management in China and the country’s role as a global political and economic power.

TEC chief executive Janice Shiner said supporting and encouraging innovation was vital to New Zealand’s economic transformation and social and cultural development.

The tertiary sector had a key role to play in this, she said.

“We need to find more advanced and sustainable ways of doing things to ensure New Zealand continues to prosper in the increasingly competitive market place,” she said.

Support for study of Islam

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