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Key should say if he believes in academic freedom

Media Release - 1 April 2007 - For Immediate Use

John Key should state if he believes in academic freedom

The Auckland University Students’ Association calls on National Party leader John Key to clarify today whether he believes New Zealand’s universities should have autonomy and independence in what they research, or if they should be directed by one of his MPs.

National’s Tertiary Education spokesman Dr Paul Hutchison recently criticised funding for a doctorate study that looked at identity and community among the heavy metal community.

The study was one out of 50 awarded by the Tertiary Education Commission, covering a wide range of academic subjects, including social sciences.

“New Zealand has a proud and important tradition of our tertiary institutions being free from political interference when it comes to what is studied, taught, and researched,” said David Do, Education Vice President of the Auckland University Students’ Association.

“Students, staff and the wider public need confirmation that Mr Key believes our tertiary institutions should be free from political interference. When Mr Key makes his speech on education at the University of Auckland Epsom campus today, he should stand up to his Tertiary Education spokesman and express his desire to see freedom of thought in our universities,” Mr Do said.

“Social science research is an important part of understanding the world around us. Research should not be singled out for criticism just because the subject area may not fit one’s definition of ‘mainstream’. It is disappointing that National has chosen to criticise independent enquiry into our communities for its own political ends.”

“This is a big test of Mr Key’s leadership. Will he stand up for what is right, or continue to choose the most politically expedient path?” Mr Do concluded.

Note:

John Key will be speaking at 12:10pm at J2 Lecture Theatre in building 6EJ at Epsom Campus. For further information contact Amber Older, Communications Advisor, University of Auckland, phone (09) 373-7599 ext 83257
(information taken off www.education.auckland.ac.nz)

Appendix:

Some of the other scholarships in the social sciences awarded by the TEC include:

Anna Smaill, University College London
Acts of Resistance: Self and Impersonality in Contemporary Poetry
$128,250.00

David Milne, The University of Waikato
Thesauri for Knowledge Seekers
$85,334.00

Ellen McRae, The University of Auckland
A Study of English Translations of Regional Italian Literature
$96,000.00

Hadas Ore, The University of Auckland
Dietary Habits and Body Image of New Zealand Migrant Women
$96,000.00

John Dennison, St Andrews University
Poetic redress and negotiation of political conflict in the poetry of Seamus Heaney
$169,470.00

Lauren Christie, Victoria University of Wellington
Communicating Sustainability: Creating a culture for sustainable homes in New Zealand through understanding behaviours and motivations
$99,934.00

Rachael Bell, Massey University
National History/National Memory: New Zealand's Official histories of WWII
$71,488.00

Susan Liebich, Victoria University of Wellington
Book Markets and reading culture in the British World and New Zealand, 1890 to 1950s
$96,636.00

Tania Domett, The University of Auckland
Women Leaders and State Power in the Contemporary Global Order
$94,431.00

Terence Green, Columbia University
The Politics of Evolution: How Evolutionary Theory Changed Political Theory in Victoria's Britain 1850-1914
$84,000.00

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