University of Otago, Christchurch, medical students will begin their academic year on Monday, January 28 by returning to a repaired campus building.
The students will be the first to study in the building since it was closed due to the February 2011 quake.
The return to the building is doubly significant as in February 2013 staff and students will celebrate 40 years since the first students began studying at the University of Otago, Christchurch (then named the Christchurch Medical School).
Fortieth anniversary celebrations were originally planned for February 2012 but had to be postponed for a year as the main building was being repaired.
The building, erected in the 1970s, withstood the quake extremely well compared to other Christchurch buildings of a more modern era, but damage was still substantial.
Over the past two years the building’s structure has been significantly strengthened and it now stands proudly at 120 per cent of the new building code standard.
University of Otago, Christchurch, Dean Professor Peter Joyce says it will be really good for medical, postgraduate and research students to be able to return to studying in the main building.
Since the February quake students attended classes in places such as bowling and cricket clubs.
Despite being under pressure and working in tough conditions, both staff and students continued to excel, Joyce says.
"Fourth- and fifth-year medical students from here averaged exactly the same results as in Dunedin and Wellington in common exams - I think they bonded together in the circumstances."
University of Otago Vice Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne agrees.
"I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the academic and general staff on our Christchurch campus. They have delivered a full medical curriculum over two difficult years and they have continued to excel in research. I find it hard to believe that they have accomplished so much under such adverse conditions.’’
The University of Otago’s medical students spend their first three years of their degree in Dunedin then study a further three years in either Dunedin, Wellington or Christchurch.
One of Christchurch’s new fourth year students is Ella Nicholas. She is from a medical family - her father is a GP, her brother has just graduated as a doctor from the University of Otago, and her sister is studying towards her medical degree in Dunedin.
Nicholas took last year off her study to compete in the Olympic Games. She was part of the Cook Island team and competed in canoe slalom.
She says: "I'm very excited about beginning my clinical years in Christchurch. Everyone I have talked to tells me what a beautiful city it is and how amazing the community is and I feel lucky to be able to become a part of that."