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Compulsion Puts Bogus Student Reps On TEC

The so-called representation provided by the student members appointed to TEC will be entirely flawed as the groups, NZUSA and ATSA, are based on compulsory membership and are therefore illegitimate, Student Choice spokesman Clint Heine said today.

Heine said NZUSA and ATSA don't represent all students. Most tertiary students are forced to join regional student associations which then affiliate to NZUSA and ATSA. Individual students are not members of the national bodies and there's not even a system of one student, one vote for the presidents of these groups, he said.

NZUSA and ATSA promote policies that most students don't support. Before the last election both organisations said that the Alliance had the best education policy. However students defied their so-called representatives by voting for other parties. The Alliance were wiped out and NZUSA and ATSA were humiliated by the result which exposed them as out of touch with the people they claimed to represent.

Heine said that by granting the student representatives observer status on TEC, the government has tacitly acknowledged that NZUSA and ATSA have no legitimacy and should not be allowed to have any input into decisions.

Heine said Labour's centralised, "we know best" approach to the tertiary sector was bad news for students' right to freedom of association and the quality of tertiary education. "Labour regard tertiary students as lobby fodder and are happy to force them to join political groups. As long as tertiary students are not treated as the primary customers of the sector, universities and polytechs will deliver second rate education because the interests of politicians and bureaucrats are put first," he said.

Clint Heine 021 122 8544

Student Choice promotes freedom of association through voluntary membership of student associations.

12 December 2002

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