Minister for Tertiary Education to respond to student concerns
The NZ Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA) has delivered a letter to Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce outlining student concerns about the downward pressures put on students and their ability to access quality tertiary education in recent years.
"With the Minister not being in a position to meet formally with NZUSA over the last 18 months, my meeting with him yesterday was an overdue opportunity for him to do what he says he wants to do, which is to engage more with students," says Pete Hodkinson, NZUSA president.
"It was positive to hear that the Minister has been taking note of the messages we have been sending, which unfortunately has had to be by way of media releases and official information requests rather than face to face meetings.”
"Most encouragingly, the Minister has signalled the 2014 election year is not likely to see more dramatic reductions in student support funding as he thinks he has the mix about right. This follows on from an earlier concession made by the Minister this week that compounding 4% fee increases are out of step with the typically pressured financial position of students and the expectation that tertiary institutions should be matching increases in cost with better outcomes for graduates.”
"I was also assured that the Minister is appreciative of the information he has received from NZUSA regarding the need for a tougher stance on accountability and transparency of Tertiary Education Organisations regarding Compulsory Student Service Fees.
"The Minister was supportive of NZUSA initiatives to embed the Student Voice within all aspects of the successful operation of tertiary education organisations and our actions to independently fill a vacuum in national advice on tertiary education through a new nationwide network of Learner Advisory Panels. These initiatives make up a significant part of the NZUSA’s “Nothing about students without students” campaign work.
"Institutions now faced with a change to the legislation around student representation on University Councils should take heart from this that they are in a position to speak up publicly against such changes. We've already lost a lot of ground and we should not be forced to lose any more. These are important public issues for everyone in New Zealand society".