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Submissions show little support for legislation

1 December 2004

Submissions show little support for legislation

With more than 100 submissions received on the proposed legislation that would block Unitec’s application for university status, the strength of opposition to the Bill should give the Government second thoughts, says Unitec’s CEO.

Dr John Webster said that almost all of the 121 written submissions on the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill were from supporters of Unitec’s bid for recognition as a university of technology. “Clearly this issue is important to a wide range of people and denying Unitec the right to have its university application fairly assessed would have a serious impact on the professions, industries and communities we serve.”

Oral submissions were given to the Education and Science Select Committee in Wellington today and a range of people and organisations gave oral submissions in Auckland last week, including the Auckland and Waitakere City Councils. Dr Webster said that it was clear there was little support for the Bill in its current form.

“The strength of feeling from many of those who made oral submissions opposing this Bill, particularly the two City Councils and the representatives from the West Auckland Maori and Pasifika communities, must have given the Select Committee real food for thought.”

He said that the submissions must have made it clear to local MPs that the Bill was not in the best interests of their constituents. “The representatives from the Maori and Pasifika communities pointed out that their people were being denied access to a full range of tertiary education by not having their home institution, located in West Auckland, recognised as a university.”

The proposed Bill would give Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey the power to veto university applications before an institution is assessed.

Unitec renewed its application for university status in 1999, but the application is only now being assessed. A clause that would block Unitec’s university assessment retrospectively came in for particular criticism from many of those making submissions.

“The retrospective clause of the Bill in particular was viewed by many as bad law, and as we are only tertiary institution that has applied for university status, it was obvious to all that the Bill unfairly targets Unitec.”

ENDS

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