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Unitec heartened by submissions

Unitec heartened by submissions

Unitec has been heartened by the oral submissions made to the Select Committee on Education and Science today on proposed legislation that would block the institution from becoming a university, says the CEO Dr John Webster.

Submissions from a range of people and organisations spoke out wholeheartedly in favour of Unitec’s bid for university status during the full day of submissions. Dr Webster said it had been encouraging to find that there was so much support from Unitec’s stakeholders.

“Mayor Bob Harvey from the Waitakere City Council has been an outspoken champion for a university in his city for a number of years. His presentation to the select committee supporting Unitec was especially stirring.

“And representatives from the Maori and Pasifika communities pointed out that their people were being denied access to a full range of tertiary education by not having their home institution, located in West Auckland, recognised as a university.

“It was particularly encouraging to note the number of people who spoke about the need for a new university of technology category. Indeed, all the members of the Select Committee expressed interest in the concept. There does seem to be a growing consensus that a new category could be the best way ahead.”

The Select Committee is considering the proposed Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill, which would give Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey the power to veto university applications before an institution is assessed.

Unitec renewed its application for university status in 1999, but the application is only now being assessed. The tabled legislation includes a retrospective clause designed to stop that assessment from being completed and confirming that Unitec meets the criteria for university status.

Dr Webster said that the oral submissions showed there was little backing for the Bill as tabled, and certainly not for it to operate retrospectively. “The great majority of presenters, from the Auckland City Council to the Unitec Student Union, voiced opposition to the Bill and I believe their submissions will have persuaded members of the Select Committee that this Bill is not acceptable in its present form.

“It is pretty clear from discussions and public statements by United Future, the Greens and New Zealand First that there is simply not majority support for this Bill to proceed as tabled. I believe that it is now time for a constructive discussion to be held to find a way ahead. We need to ensure that the Auckland and New Zealand communities can reap the full potential benefits of having Unitec established as a university of technology with a clear dual-sector mission.”

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