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Maharey signals reform of tertiary governance

10 October 2000 Media Statement

Maharey signals reform of tertiary governance

The Government plans to introduce legislation this year clarifying the roles of tertiary councils and allowing for greater government involvement when insitutions are in difficulty, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey said today.

Addressing a student forum at Victoria University of Wellington this afternoon, Mr Maharey said the governance and management in the tertiary sector needs to improve if they are to successfully meet new demands from students, society and the needs of industry. The Government has few powers to assist at-risk institutions at present and the duty of tertiary council members to hold institution chief executives accountable is unclear.

"The demands on tertiary governance and management will be even greater in the integrated and responsive national tertiary education system which the Government is developing.

"National's underfunding of the sector has been a major contributor to the financial distress many institutions find themselves in. But, it is not only underfunding which has caused institutions' financial problems.

"The Government cannot continue to act only as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We also have to build fences at the top. We are going to legislate to do this, consistent with the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

"The principle that we will be using is that intervention will be in inverse proportion to success. If institutions are coping well, we will leave them to succeed. If not, we will be there to help. But also we want to ensure that institutions accept our help.

"We will also make clear the duty of Councils not only to appoint the vice-chancellor (or chief executive), but also to hold them accountable.

"The Government will be moving to consult with the tertiary sector on our planned changes later this month," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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