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Govt Should Come Clean on Reforms

VUWSA web siteThe National government should come clean with its agenda for tertiary education according to the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. Acting President Chris Hipkins called for Tertiary Education Minister Max Bradford to outline the government's intentions following reports the Tertiary Review White Paper has been put on hold because Mr Bradford felt it didn't go far enough.

"We are particularly concerned at Mr Bradford's assertion that the government needs to re-examine the issue of whether the Crown has any role owning universities (reported in NZ Herald). Education is a public service and needs to be subject to democratic accountability with the equitable provision of quality education its main goal. It is not a tradable commodity to be provided at the profit-driven whim of private businesses. We demand that the government to publicly acknowledge this," Chris Hipkins said.

Mr Hipkins said he suspected the government would not outline any plans for tertiary education until after the election, as they would be unpopular with an electorate already particularly concerned about mounting student loan debt.

"While we're pleased that the reforms the government had already planned have been put on hold, we're worried that should National manage to cobble together a government after the election they will re-embark on their very damaging privatisation agenda within the tertiary education sector," Mr Hipkins said.

"As it is the changes outlined in the White Paper would rapidly move the tertiary sector down the road of corporatisation, commercialisation and privatisation. Representative University Councils would be replaced by Boards of Management and capital charge that has been so disastrous in the health sector would be introduced. 'Reforms' have already ensured that public universities and polytechnics would have to compete for funding with private education providers," Mr Hipkins said.

"Mr Bradford and his colleagues have a duty to inform students and the public of their intention. I challenge him to come clean with his programme. It is completely dishonest to wait until after the election and then try to ram things through with out a mandate," Mr Hipkins said.

The Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association will be holding a series of forums and election meetings over the coming months to discuss election issues. Hipkins extended an invitation for Mr Bradford to come to one of these forums and outline the government's plans.

For further information contact:
Chris Hipkins, Acting President
473 8566 or 025 28 777 51
chris.hipkins@vuw.ac.nz

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