Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Changes to university councils will harm academic freedom

Media release
Academic Freedom Aotearoa
11 February 2014

Changes to university councils will harm academic freedom

Who governs our universities is of crucial importance to all New Zealanders, because it affects the ability of academics to speak up on controversial issues, says Academic Freedom Aotearoa.

The government plans to cut the size of university and wānanga councils, making them more like corporate boards.

Academic Freedom Aotearoa co-chairs Dr Sandra Grey and Professor Jack Heinemann say the government changes do not provide enough separation between universities and government, as the minister could appoint many of the council members.

“Currently there are elected staff, student, and community representatives on university and wānanga councils. These people ensure a university meets its crucial public good role. They ensure that our public tertiary education institutions contribute to democratic debates.”

“If the minister makes such a high percentage of council appointments he is more able to pull the strings, and this could mean outspoken academics and students who critique government actions will find themselves in hot water with councils.”

“Even if there are no direct cases in which university and wānanga councils directly censure staff for public critiques undertaken,” says Dr Grey, “the fear generated about biting the hand that feeds will leave all New Zealanders unsure as to whether academics can fulfil their role in our democracy.”

Professor Heinemann points out that “there are different kinds of institutions in the tertiary sector and they have varying portfolios. These proposed changes treat each institution as if they all had only a few portfolios and the same obligations to the taxpayer. They do not.”

“Universities, for example, don’t exist to limit knowledge transfer relevant to only the few industries large enough to potentially dominate access to councils, or to teach students only what the university anticipates are the knowledge and skills that will get them jobs,” says Professor Heineman.

“Universities have a long term commitment to society. They cater for students that have specific career objectives, and for those that don’t, but have interests and skills that education can help them to use and enjoy. They welcome back students at all ages and stages of study, supporting them through a lifetime of career and personal choices.”

Dr Grey says what is more outrageous is that the changes come even though the government admits that universities are performing well.

Who are we:

Academic Freedom Aotearoa is a watchdog and advocacy group made up of academics from all around New Zealand. The group, established in 2013, is committed to protecting and enhancing academic freedom and tertiary education institutions’ autonomous role as the critic and conscience of society.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Auckland: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival - Line-Up Announced

Traversing seven cities and three countries, the festival has well and truly settled into its home in each state. From the grassy knolls and towering silos at home in Auckland, to the sparkling backdrop of the Maribyrnong... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Longer An Island

Simon Nathan reviews 'Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed': The idea that New Zealand is part of a large submerged continent is not new... There was renewed interest in the extent of offshore New Zealand from the 1970s onwards with the start of offshore drilling for oil and gas, and this was given impetus by a UN agreement which allowed countries to claim an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). More>>

Art: Simon Denny Recreates Kim Dotcom’s Personal Effects

Who owns what? How has the internet changed our relation to the world? These are two of the many questions Simon Denny raises in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening on Saturday 4 October. More>>

Theatre: The F Word: Sex Without The 'ism'

Sex without the 'ism' Okay, so the sexes are equal in the eyes of the law. What the F happens now? More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Don’t Eat The Fish

On 'The Catch' by Michael Field What the ecologically edible lists don’t appear to take into account – and they should – is slavery... It’s not an easy read, but it’s definitely near the top of my listicle of “5 Political Books You Must Read This Year”. More>>

ALSO:

Caracals: Small Cats With Big Ears Arrive At Wellington Zoo

Visitors to Wellington Zoo will be able to see New Zealand’s first Caracals in the Zoo’s new Grassland Cats habitat, with a special visitor opening day on Saturday 27 September. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Classics - Tales From Moominvalley
Can’t speak for the reading end of it but the Moomins ( or maybe the story about Margaret Wise Brown) were the most enjoyable subject to think about and write about during these whole first 50 issues of Werewolf. For that reason – and because the Moomins always reward re-reading – I’ve decided to reprint it. The only added element is a link to an interesting hour long documentary about Tove Jansson. More>>

ALSO:

Repping In The Pacific: All Blacks And Manu Samoa To Play Historic Apia Test

The All Blacks will play Manu Samoa in Apia on Wednesday 8 July next year as part of both teams’ preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news