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Ako Aotearoa announces its new approach to Research and Innovation

12 July 2022

Strategic Leadership and Change

Ako Aotearoa – New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence – this week announced the restart of its research programme, which is guided by the Ako Aotearoa Research and Innovation Agenda (AARIA).

Building from the Centre’s successful twelve-year track record of funding and co-funding research and change projects, the programme brings a strong emphasis on innovation.

The objective is to deliver a strategic and coherent research and innovation work programme to meet the needs of the tertiary education and training sector – including policy agencies, organisations, practitioners, and ākonga (students).

AARIA’s three key aims are:

  • Support the tertiary education system and contribute to better tertiary teaching and subsequently better learning outcomes for ākonga
  • Share research and innovation findings in ways that support teaching and learning, education and training, as well as supporting the interests of collaborating organisations or entities
  • Provide opportunities for collaborative work and networking that benefits all involved and contributes to building research capability.

Strategic approach with a sharper focus

An important part of the new programme is Ako Aotearoa’s shift to a commissioning approach, from its previous contestable position, and closer alignment of its priorities with the objectives of the current Tertiary Education Strategy. The key focus areas will be Objective Two – Barrier Free Access and Objective Three – Quality Teaching and Leadership.

The first strand of this programme is underway and Ako Aotearoa staff are working with several tertiary education organisations on specific work.

Ako Aotearoa Director/Tumuaki, Helen Lomax, believes collaborating with the sector is a key strength of AARIA. “We are pleased to be working in the research and innovation space again and are looking forward to working with the sector to do this,” she says.

“We will be seeking sector input again later this year to determine the research and innovation programme for 2023 and beyond.” She adds.

Strengthening the capability and capacity of educating researchers across the sector are equally important to Ms Lomax and the team.

“We aim to do this through professional learning opportunities and by using a Community of Practice model to work with research and innovation teams in the first instance.” she explains.

Ako Aotearoa is also determined to make research and innovation findings more accessible to practitioners. Therefore, alongside reports, a range of different mechanisms will aim to do this - e.g., summaries, fact sheets, good practice guides, video clips and webinars, as well as Communities of Practice.

Read more about AARIA