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Oh Dr Hutchison, you’ve done it again!

Media Release - 27 March 2008 - For Immediate Use

Oh Dr Hutchison, you’ve done it again!

The Auckland University Students’ Association calls on the National Party to clarify again whether it believes New Zealand’s universities should have autonomy and independence in what they research, or if they should be directed by one of their MPs.

The Tertiary Education Commission recently awarded 42 Top Achievers Doctoral Scholarships to students undertaking research in a variety of disciplines. 16 of the 42 scholarships went to students at the University of Auckland.

National’s Tertiary Education spokesman Dr Paul Hutchison criticised several doctoral recipients for the areas they were researching, calling some of the subjects awarded funds “mind-boggling."

Last year, Dr Hutchison also targeted particular criticism at a Top Doctoral Scholarship recipient for studying bogan culture.

“The point of research is to expand, as well as boggle, the mind,” says AUSA President David Do.

“Tertiary institutions should be free from political interference when it comes to what is studied, taught, and researched. It’s called academic freedom. What a politician happens to think of a student’s doctorate research is, with all due respect, none of their business."

AUSA also notes that Carey-Ann Morrison of Waikato University reportedly spoke to Dave Snell (who won a TEC scholarship last year for his research on bogan culture) about the possibility of a backlash against her work.

“When we have postgraduate students concerned about what politicians think of their research, I think we’re treading a potentially dangerous line,” says AUSA Education Vice President Sophia Blair.

“Research should not be singled out for criticism just because the subject area may not fit one’s definition of ‘mainstream’. Students, staff and the wider public need confirmation that Mr Key believes our tertiary institutions should be free from political interference,” concludes David Do.


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