Quake damage in Canterbury is slowing down scientific research by Christchurch based researchers. With damage to research laboratories on the Christchurch Hospital site and the Hilgendorf science building closed at Lincoln University lab space is in short supply in Canterbury. The University of Canterbury is helping accommodate some of the overflow, while ESR has been able to accommodate some displaced researchers.
For those at tertiary institutions, laboratory space is only one issue staff have to deal with. The government seems to be giving little leeway in terms of institutions meeting their expected EFTS (Effective Full Time Students). The University of Canterbury has predicted, and is experiencing, a drop in student numbers. At CPIT, staff have been working hard to meet EFTS requirements in uncertain times, and are currently exceeding 92% of predicted EFTS, however, this has required extra work by many staff.
In the wake of the quakes in 2010 and 2011, tertiary and research institutions were innovative in adapting to the post quake environment, but many of the temporary changes are not sustainable – not without ongoing stress for researchers, particularly those who in addition to being displaced from work have also suffered significant damage to their homes.
New Zealand researchers are known for their ability to adapt and innovate and many have done so in Canterbury. However, until research facilities are revived throughout the region, research will not reach the levels it was at before the quakes. Hopefully tertiary organisations and the government will be giving the repair of these facilities the priority it deserves.