Education and research have no place in trade agreements
The Association of University Staff (AUS) has today urged the Select Committee hearing submissions on the proposed free trade and investment agreement with Singapore to recommend against its ratification.
AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier, told the committee that the Association was strongly opposed to the treating of tertiary education as a commodity and its inclusion, along with research, in trade agreements.
“AUS is seriously concerned about the proposed inclusion of research in the agreement, and finds it extraordinary that there has been no consultation with those engaged in such research, notably academics,” said Mr Crozier.
“We are also concerned about the future consequences for funding of research through mechanisms such as the Marsden Fund, which currently funds about 1 in 10 applications.
“Opening this and other funds up to Singapore as a consequence of a free trade agreement could have catastrophic effects on New Zealand researchers,” he said.
“A further concern arises in relation to the inclusion of mutual recognition of qualifications. Singapore makes it clear that it will not recognise New Zealand degrees for the purposes of admission, registration and qualification for professional practice in Singapore.
“This means that there will be little incentive for Singaporean students to study in New Zealand – supposedly one of the justifications for the inclusion of education in the first place,” said Mr Crozier.
“The Government states that it is committed to the nation-building role of the tertiary education sector. It should therefore exclude education from all trade agreements in order to protect that policy position.”
“AUS strongly supports international linkages in education and research but not through the mechanism of trade agreements.”
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