Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Why students are revolting

Why students are revolting


Students from the University of Auckland, as a part of the National Student Day of Action on the 15th August, are protesting against the corporatisation of the University. The corporate composition of the University contradicts its role as the ‘critic and conscious of society’ as outlined in the University Charter. To critique society, the university must also be able to critique itself. Government cuts to public education, and the restructuring of the University, impacts most on those already facing systematic marginalisation--Māori, Pasifika and migrant students; female staff members; and minimum wage workers.

Firstly, the University of Auckland has undertaken the Faculty Administration Review (FAR) in order to offer education in the form of ‘customer focused service delivery’ and allegedly more efficient and effective services in administrative structures. Despite the fact that this administration restructure was not initially framed as directly affecting job security of staff, University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon stated ‘it is an aim of the project [the Faculty Administration Review or FAR] to substantially reduce [staff] numbers’.

This substantial reduction disestablishes 358 positions and intends to create only 249 in their place. Administrative staff have minimal job security, are being asked to reapply for positions they already hold and to compete with their colleagues for consolidated generic positions. These consolidated positions will place greater stress on fewer numbers of administrative staff who are already over-worked, under-valued and under-paid. With rising student enrolments, we ask how a reduction in the number of staff who keep the university running behind the scenes could possibly lead to greater efficiency? Perhaps the Vice-Chancellor himself, is due for a check-up and restructure.

Redundancies of this nature are reflected in the university’s governance structure. Under a proposed change by the current government, university and wānanga councils will be reduced in size from 20 members to 12 members, 3-4 of whom must be appointed by the Tertiary Education minister with the rest chosen by the university . Most frustratingly, our hard-fought for student representation will no longer be mandatory. This is an erosion of student democracy and self-governance which places more power in the hands of central government. We believe that the University should be run by those who make it up--students, staff and the community.

Meanwhile, the University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, earns $650,000 to $660,000 a year in a remuneration package, making him the highest-paid public official in the country. His pay package increased by $20,000 from 2012 to 2013. If there is not enough ‘public funding’ to place a freeze on fees or to pay workers at the University an adequate wage then why is there enough to pay Professor McCutcheon’s salary?

How is this kind of salary possibly justified for any public official when between 500,000 and 750,000 people in New Zealand are living in households with incomes below the poverty line? As New Zealanders, we bare the unfortunate statistic of an estimated 270,000 children living in poverty. How does the University of Auckland contribute to the perpetuation of poverty? Cleaners at the University of Auckland are paid a minimum wage, some of whom have worked for the University six days a week for 30 years. Wages are out of step with the cost of living and an institution bound to be the conscience of society cannot defensibly continue paying below subsistence wages.

At the same time, the University of Auckland is set to become the first billion dollar tertiary institution. Stuart McCutcheon has said this has come from ‘increased government grants, increased student tuition fees, and a substantial increase in the size of our research operation.’ Yet when asked if this revenue would freeze fee increases, McCutcheon replied that this is not financially possible because the income per student in real terms declines each year. Although the University is starved of sufficient government funding, the problem is exacerbated by the uneven distribution of funds to capital investment and profit-focused research.

Understandably, students across the country are becoming increasingly frustrated that the very people making hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts to tertiary education benefited from a fully funded degree. Paula Bennett, circa 1996, expressed it the best: ‘fees suck and fee increases just piss me off. Damn the Nats who bring cuts to our education system, make us pay for them out of our student loans that will take many people decades to pay off’. Unfortunately, the message has not gotten through to Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce who didn’t pay a dime for his Bachelor of Science.

So what’s the alternative to this austerity? What we know is that New Zealand universities collect about $900 million in domestic tuition fees, requiring students to take out around $1.1 billion in student loan debt. The inevitable consequence of this is the exclusion of more and more people from tertiary education. To solve this growing problem, we support fully-funded, fee-free tertiary education. It would cost approximately half of the $2 billion per year tax cut John Key gave to the top income earners. If countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Denmark can do it, so can we. It shouldn’t be radical to call for dignity for workers, a vibrant student democracy and fully funded education--but it is.

For more information about these issues and our National Student Day of Action Friday, check out our facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/307031712804685/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Aftermath Of The Greenwald/Snowden Revelations

The credibility issues have come down to two main ones:

1 The email This has to do with whether Key knowingly agreed to use our immigration rules as a tool to ensnare and ultimately extradite Kim Dotcom, and do so largely at the behest of Hollywood’s leading corporates and their best friend in the White House, vice-President Joseph Biden. Some of the debate in the last few days has turned on the reliability of a Warners email that seems to set out this plan in black and white. IMO, the email is just the icing on the cake...

2. Mass surveillance Earlier to day I was going to try to explain the difference between what Edward Snowden/Glenn Greenwald were talking about (ie mass surveillance via the the cable-accessing SPEARGUN programme and the Xkeyscore analytical programme) and what Key has chosen to talk about instead in order to deliberately distract and confuse the public. Then I found that Keith Ng had not only beaten me to it, but had done so with beautiful lucidity. More>>

Out-Link - "Project SPEARGUN underway" • OnPoint • Public Address

 
 

Parliament Today:

Pre-Election Chartering: Four New Partnership Schools To Open

Education Minister Hekia Parata today announced the Government has signed contracts to open four new Partnership Schools in 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf 50 Out Now - The Election Issue: Loss Leaders

Gordon Campbell: A third term requires a mature decision, with eyes wide open. It calls for a conscious vote of confidence… Without trying hard here are about 19 reasons, in no particular order, for not ticking ‘party vote’ National. More>>

ALSO:

Not-Especially New Plans: All Prisons To Become Working Prisons Under National

All public prisons in New Zealand will become full working prisons by 2017, and ex-prisoners will receive post-release drug addiction treatment if National is returned to government, says Corrections Spokesperson Anne Tolley. More>>

ALSO:

Māngere: "False Claim Of Matai Title" - Labour

National must explain why its candidate for Māngere Misa Fia Turner appears to be using a Matai title she is not entitled to, Labour’s MP for Māngere and Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. A Matai title is a legally-recognised ... More>>

ALSO:

CPAG Report: No New Zealand Child Should Grow Up In Poverty

Child Poverty Action Group's flagship policy publication Our Children, Our Choice: Priorities for Policy calls for cross party political agreement to underpin an action plan to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On National’s Phantom Tax Cut Package

Hmmm. So National’s tax cuts package turns out to be one of those television advertisements that screams a headline promise – perfect skin! a youth tonic that works! – while in very small print there’s an out clause: special conditions may apply. More>>

ALSO:

Water: New Marine Reserves On West Coast Opened

Five new marine reserves were officially opened by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast of the South Island to protect a range of marine ecosystems for conservation, science and recreation. More>>

ALSO:

Perception: Study Looks At Trustworthiness And Support Of Politicians

A University of Canterbury marketing study has looked at what impact the Thatcher Effect has on perceptions of trustworthiness and liking of New Zealand politicians leading up to the 2014 general election. More>>

ALSO:

History Lessons: Jamie Whyte At ACT Campaign Opening

It is nearly 20 years since the ACT party was born. Many people no longer remember why it was named ACT. They may imagine that it was on account of our determination to actually do things in parliament rather than simply occupy the seats and collect the salaries. That’s true but it isn’t the right answer... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news