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Law establishing universities clarified

17 September 2004 Media Statement

Law establishing universities clarified

Legislation to improve the process for establishing universities was tabled in Parliament today.

The Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill sets up a better process for determining whether an organisation can be established as a university.

The Bill:
- clarifies the law so that the Minister must first make a decision on the strategic implications for the nation and for the tertiary education system of establishing a university, before a detailed assessment of the academic criteria is carried out
- allows the Minister to decide to reject a case if not satisfied on national interest grounds
- ensures that any current proposals to become a university are considered under the new process set out in the Bill.

“This step is being taken to streamline the processes so that valuable resources are not wasted,” said Associate Education Minister Steve Maharey.

“The issue being addressed by the Bill has been highlighted in UNITEC’s request to be reclassified as a university. UNITEC’s case will still be considered if it wishes, but it will need to be done under the new procedures with issues of national interest addressed first.

“Under current legislation the New Zealand Qualifications Authority is potentially wasting a great deal of time and money considering whether an organisation should become a university, when it is clear that the proposal is not in the national interest.

“NZQA advises that the direct cost alone of assessing the characteristics of a potential university is around $180,000 - $190,000. This Bill sets out a better and more robust process for handling this issue”.

The next stage of this Bill will be to move it to the Select Committee process where interested parties can make submissions.

A copy of the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill will be available at


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