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A Nine-Point Plan For University Action

Media Release 26 November 2008

A Nine-Point Plan For Government And University Action

Investing in universities as an essential part of New Zealand’s infrastructure is the central theme of a nine-point plan released today by the universities’ representative body, the NZ Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, and intended for action by the new government.

The plan calls for increased public investment in universities, indexation of that investment, greater flexibility around student fees policy and a reduction in the compliance costs universities face in dealing with central education agencies. Universities also want a tertiary education system which recognises the investment level required to sustain their research-led teaching.

Basic research, supported by the Marsden Fund, is pivotal to the innovation process and the universities seek to have it doubled in size over the three-year term of the new government. Overall, the plan makes a call for increased and accessible research funding including restoration of university access to contestable research funding and an increase in contestable funds managed by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the Health Research Council.

Under the plan, universities support closer relationships with other research organisations through appropriate policy changes on research funding and research institution governance. The roles of universities and the Crown Research Institutes could be more complementary with opportunities for increased collaboration.

The remaining aspects of the nine-point plan cover “a step change for Māori and Pasifika” and a commitment to universities’ distinctive contribution. All universities have strategies in place to strengthen the engagement of Māori and Pasifika communities with university education and the NZVCC plan seeks the co-operation of the new government to progress those strategies. In terms of their distinctive contribution to tertiary education, universities want the new government to accept its obligation to safeguard university autonomy and academic freedom, and to recognise universities’ unique ownership position.

NZVCC deputy chair Derek McCormack says universities are part of the nation’s infrastructure that builds economic and social prosperity. “New Zealand’s eight universities seek support from the new government for a nine-point programme which, taken overall, will significantly advance their ability to contribute to national development.”

ends


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