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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



It has been seen that the early university institutions ranked science high in priority and this initial planning has meant that the University of New Zealand, and now its successors, the independent universities, have offered courses leading to degrees in which science has featured as the main component of the structure. Although at first the degree was an arts degree, separate degrees in science were later introduced. Present arrangements provide for the degrees of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, with various special arrangements for honours at either level according to the, institution concerned. At the same time the several specialised professional courses in such fields as agriculture, home science, medicine, and engineering contain greater or lesser components of pure science in their structures. Again, with the great proliferation of disciplines that has occurred in this century, many new subjects have been added to the curriculum, and although not all of these are available in each institution virtually all of the commonly required sciences may be studied to an advanced level in New Zealand. These include such disciplines as biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology, which are of considerable importance to the primary industries. An important exception is geophysics.

Although much of the teaching of pure science has been restricted in the past to the four general university institutions in the main centres, the two agricultural colleges, Massey and Lincoln, within recent years strengthened their work in this field very considerably and the emergence of Massey as an autonomous Massey University of Manawatu (1964) is evidence that this tendency will continue.

At the research level the universities have always had able staff devoting their attention equally to research and teaching. Viewed as a whole the university's ability to make a systematic contribution to scientific knowledge has in the past been very much circumscribed by the twin confines of finance and lack of full-time research workers. The former position was no doubt partly related to the view that the best return for money invested in scientific research was to be obtained by concentrating it in professional research laboratories, such as those of the State, and also to the lack of organised incentives to promising graduates at the M.Sc. level to encourage them to continue their studies in New Zealand. The present position is a very much more satisfactory one and may be related directly to the setting aside of special funds, earmarked for research, as well as to the institution of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Under the University of New Zealand a system was introduced whereby a centrally administered fund for research equipment and assistance generally could be called upon by individual university teachers. This system has been continued under the University Grants Committee, its Research Committee now receiving £100,000 annually to allocate. A substantial portion of this grant is used to award fellowships for full-time research, particularly to candidates for the Ph.D., and these supplement in a most useful way the scholarship resources of the universities themselves.

The Doctorate in Philosophy is the initial research degree in Commonwealth and United States universities generally, and is now well established in New Zealand. Its adoption has been a potent factor in advancing scientific research in the universities, and recognisable schools of research are now emerging in a way which would have been quite impossible without it. At a higher level the degree of Doctor of Science has long been available to scientists generally, the criterion being excellence in published original work.


McLintock, Alexander Hare