Student body: Plans don't make the grade
Otago University's student body has given Government's university governance plans a "D" rating, saying students are being shut out by changes.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced its governance proposal at Victoria University yesterday, part of the Government's draft Tertiary Education Strategy.
The Government proposes:
Decreasing the size of university and wānanga councils from 12 to 20 members; to 8 to 12 members;
Making council membership requirements more flexible by removing specific representative requirements;
Requiring the Minister and councils to appoint members with governance capability;
Clarifying the duties and accountabilities of individual council members.
The Otago University Students' Association said that constituted an attack against student representation on university councils.
Association president Francisco Hernandez described the report as anaemic and anonymous, and also said it had "the whiff of an all-nighter pulled to crank out a forgotten piece of assessment".
"This isn't even a C- job," Mr Hernandez said.
The policy failed to show any evidence of problems caused by the current mixed representation and skills model of university governance, and students would demand "a substantial case" for change, he said.
"Students are increasingly the customers, consumers and co-producers of their education.
"The current paper relies on the minister having some discussions with vice-chancellors and chancellors, and taking no account of student or other stakeholder views.
"This is not the approach that students or the university would consider good practice," Mr Hernandez said.
It was also difficult to reconcile the Government's Tuesday announcement that universities were "doing a great job" because they were producing more qualifications than with "the governance of universities needs to change" story line, he said.
Maori student body Tumuaki of Te Roopū Māori representative Gianna Leoni said her organisation would also be making itself heard on the governance issue.
"The number of Maori students have increased at this university, making it even more important these gains are sustained with Māori and student voices in governance."
Mr Joyce said the current models of governance do not allow New Zealand universities and wananga to be as agile and adaptive as they needed to be.
Governance changes must be investigated to help institutions deliver the strategy and to be internationally competitive, Mr Joyce said.
The new approach made council membership more flexible with an emphasis on governance skills and experience, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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