Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


University staff say no strings to private funding

AUS WEB SITEUniversity staff want no strings attached to private funding of research

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has accused the Minister responsible for Tertiary Education, Steve Maharey, of failing to provide any satisfactory assurance that government-sponsored partnerships between universities and private enterprise will protect academic freedom.

According to a Ministerial press release, Mr Maharey told a Business NZ audience that such partnerships would involve private-sector investment in universities, “while upholding the values of academic freedom, scientific rigour and critical inquiry.” But Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President, pointed out that the published goals and criteria for Cabinet approval of funding for such partnerships say nothing at all about academic freedom, scientific rigour or critical inquiry – and further criteria provided in response to an AUS request refer only generally and vaguely to such issues.

“Mr Maharey’s framework for approval does not ensure that his government’s drive to commercialise university funding will in practice uphold the values that are crucial to the university’s role in the advancement of knowledge.

“His current assurances on this matter must, therefore, be taken with a grain of salt. The Labour-led government is enthusiastically pursuing the commercialisation of publicly-funded education and research under the guise of so-called ‘relevance’ and ‘excellence’. Its commitment to the university’s role as an autonomous producer of knowledge and as society’s independent critic and conscience seems little more than lip service.

Dr Duncan continued, “It is likely, if this initiative proceeds as is, that universities will eventually become dependent on private enterprise, just as they are now dependent on overseas students. We are also concerned that this will provide an excuse for government not to increase needed public investment in tertiary education.”

Dr Duncan suggested that the best approach would be to strengthen the academic freedom and the ‘critic and conscience’ requirements for universities under the Education Act to ensure that neither the government nor the institutions could permit any deals with private enterprise that result in universities being used, for example, as promotional tools or as training departments of big business. Alternatively, as well as requiring ‘a thorough business case’ to support proposals for funding, strict, explicit criteria to protect academic freedom should be met.

“Most importantly,” said Dr Duncan, “There must be no strings attached to any private funding and university staff must be able to fulfil their obligation to conduct independent, publicly- available research.”

Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President
021 680 475, 09 443 9700 ext 9086

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Legendary Bassist David Friesen Plays Wellington’s Newest Jazz Venue

Friesen is touring New Zealand to promote his latest album Another Time, Another Place, recorded live at Auckland's Creative Jazz Club in 2015. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Father - Descending Into The Depths of Dementia

Florian Zeller's dazzling drama The Father explores the effects of a deeply unsettling illness that affects 62,000 Kiwis, a number expected to grow to 102,000 by 2030. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Blade Runner Redivivus

When Ridley Scott's innovative, neo-noir, sci-fi flick Blade Runner was originally released in 1982, at a cost of over $45 million, it was a commercial bomb. More>>

14-21 October: New Zealand Improv Festival In Wellington

Imagined curses, Shibuya’s traffic, the apocalypse, and motherhood have little in common, but all these and more serve as inspiration for the eclectic improvised offerings coming to BATS Theatre this October for the annual New Zealand Improv Festival. More>>


Bird Of The Year Off To A Flying Start

The competition asks New Zealanders to vote for their favourite bird in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats they face. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Jenny Abrahamson's John & Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders, 1864-1891

This volume will be of interest to a range of readers interested in the South Island high country, New Zealand’s natural environment, and the history of science. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland