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Strengthen the commitment for the public good

Strengthen the commitment for the public good

Staff and students in tertiary education institutions are calling on parliament to be bolder and ensure their expertise around teaching, learning, and research is taken seriously in strategic planning for institutions.

The Education Amendment Bill is back before parliament today, but the proposed amendments to the bill do not go far enough for NZUSA and NZTEU. Tertiary education staff and students are urging parliament to legislate that all TEI council’s must have two staff and two student seats, with representatives democratically elected.

The Education and Workforce select committee report recommends only one student member of councils and one staff member of councils be required, with polytechs and universities given the option of having two staff representative if they want.

“Who would you expect to hear from if you were making strategic decisions about what support and academic services are needed for today’s learners to ensure they remain engaged in their studies – well students and staff for a start.” says Jonathan Gee from NZUSA

“Sadly a single student representatives’ ideas could be easily overlooked and crowded out on councils which will still have a significant majority of the membership made up of ministerial appointments and those with corporate expertise. If teaching and learning is to be at the heart of our tertiary education system, as it should be in order to deliver daily for all kiwis, parliament must act now.”

NZTEU president Sandra Grey says the very significant failures in our tertiary education sector recently could have perhaps been less severe if council’s had been able to draw on staff and student expertise.

“This is why hundreds of staff made submissions to the select committee urging for one third of the council seats to be occupied by staff and students, leaving two thirds for business, community, and iwi leaders.”

“It’s great to see the select committee recognising that staff and students have the requisite expertise to sit on councils – but we need parliament to be bolder around the council composition.”

The changes to the Education Amendment Bill section on council composition are a credit to our members who have long campaigned to have a much greater say in how their institutions are run. They have known all along that the best results are achieved when staff, students, institutions and the local community are collectively responsible for decisions about the teaching, learning and research that are carried out at our institutions, and it is great to have a government that has finally listened.

As well as increasing staff and student representation, parliament could be bolder around the numbers of seats in order to ensure diversity of members at the table. “The select committee heard the strong submissions from TEU members on the need to increase the number of seats on polytechnic councils as well, though it has only recommended lifting to ten at most.

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