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Universities reject Minister’s criticism of performance

3 September 2012

Universities reject Minister’s criticism of their performance

Recent comments by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment Steven Joyce that university councils are impeding the performance of universities are being disputed by Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors.

Following the recent release of a Business Growth Agenda Progress report, Building Innovation, Minister Joyce commented that “university councils were too large, at around 20 members, and were often slow to react to changing circumstances, not pursuing commercialisation of research as effectively as possible, and were lagging in their international education initiatives”.

Roger France, Chair of the Chancellors’ Committee refutes those comments, saying New Zealand’s university system is the most efficient in the world, as measured by the rankings of the institutions relative to their income or expenditure per student.

“Contrary to the Minister’s claims that we are lagging in international education, New Zealand universities have the fifth highest proportion of international students in the OECD.”

Universities New Zealand Chair Professor Pat Walsh adds that our universities are doing great work and there is plenty to be proud of. “Rather than being slow to respond to change, we have expanded capacity three-fold over the past 30 years and diversified our programmes significantly.”

“In addition, the research being undertaken in New Zealand universities is world-leading and our researchers are highly effective in delivering outputs from research and commercialising research. This is demonstrated by the fact that our universities rate alongside or ahead of prestigious universities such as MIT and Stanford in their ratio of contract research to total research income and in their patent productivity.”

“There is in any event no evidence that council size has a negative effect on university performance,” Mr France says. “New Zealand university councils have an average of 18 members and many of the world’s leading universities, such as Harvard, Cambridge and Stanford, have governing bodies as large, or larger, than this.”

ENDS

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