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University entry restrictions a matter for concern

Association of University Staff
Media Release
4 December 2007

University entry restrictions a matter for concern, says union

A proposal to restrict further undergraduate student entry to the University of Auckland from 2009 has been described as unnecessarily hurried and worrying by the union representing university staff. Association of University Staff (AUS) National President, Professor Nigel Haworth, said that it is essential that the University takes great care over and examines the long-term effects of a restricted entry policy as, once in place, such restrictions would not be reversed.

The University of Auckland Senate, an academic board comprising senior University management and academics, yesterday accepted a recommendation that that first-year entry to the University in Arts, Science, Education and Law may be restricted from the end of next year. The recommendation will now go to the University Council for a final decision on 10 December.

Professor Haworth says that, while the rationale for the move has arisen as a result of new funding arrangements which, although not yet confirmed, indicate that the University will not be funded for increased student numbers from 2008, it also reflects the use by the University of the tertiary reform process to differentiate the University of Auckland from other universities in the New Zealand system, a strategic goal in place for some years.

Professor Haworth said that, while the AUS broadly supports the tertiary reforms, in the absence of a clear plan for tertiary education provision in the Auckland region, the arbitrary capping of student intake in the region’s largest tertiary institution must be a matter of concern for the regional community and Government, particularly if other institutions follow suit. “The University of Auckland needs to consider the long-term tertiary education needs of Auckland and New Zealand as a whole when taking decisions of this nature,” he said. “Any change in policy must involve wide community consultation before decisions are made if the strong relationship between the University and its community are to remain strong.”

Professor Haworth said that much more information was needed before an informed decision could be made, including an examination of how the University would continue to meet its social obligations, including that prospective students from a broad variety of backgrounds were able to get access to the University. “It would be unacceptable if a consequence of this move was that the Auckland became a ‘university of the advantaged’ in which disadvantaged communities – especially Maori and Pasifika – were compartmentalised into affirmative action programmes”, he said.

Ends

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