Govt Using Sledgehammer To Crack Peanut
National's Tertiary Education spokesperson Maurice Williamson says the Government is using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut in imposing a rigid monitoring and intervention regime on universities.
The Education and Science Select Committee's Report on the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) was tabled in Parliament today.
"National is strongly opposed to the Government's attempts to encroach on the independence and academic freedom of our universities.
"The Education Amendment Bill (No 2) gives the Government the power to place an observer in a university and to replace the entire council with a commissioner but it hasn't specified under what conditions those powers can be invoked.
"If the Government's concerns about management of universities are only in relation to financial management, then that should be made explicit in the legislation. As it stands, the Bill will allow the Government to interfere in the activities of a university even if there is no sign of economic trouble.
"The universities told the committee that they already provide truckloads of information to the Tertiary Advisory and Monitoring Unit and said they would be happy to meet any other reasonable requests from Government.
"Instead, the Government is planning to cut across the independence of universities. The Bill will dreadfully hamper academic freedom.
"I will be moving amendments in the House to exclude universities from this rigid regime and will propose that instead, the insolvency provisions outlined in the Companies Act are imposed on universities," Mr Williamson said.