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Bill on polytechnic councils now even worse

Hon Maryan Street
Tertiary Education Spokesperson

20 Novmber 2009 Media Statement
Bill on polytechnic councils now even worse

The Government’s plan to seize greater control of polytechnic governing councils has become even worse with the decision to remove dedicated positions for student or staff representatives, says Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Maryan Street.

“The Education and Science select committee report on the Education (Polytech) Amendment Bill was tabled today and is set to outrage students and tertiary staff, as well as local communities.

“The Bill as first introduced earlier this year was bad enough. It aimed to reduce polytechnic councils to eight members, down from up to 20,” Maryan Street said.

“It enabled the Government to appoint four of the eight representatives, up from three now – and this, together with the reduction in overall numbers, will ensure the Government takes a much more dominant role in council affairs.

“It proposed to remove requirements for union and employer representatives, as well as guaranteed Maori representation – which was a backwards step.

“But it did at least stipulate that the four non-Ministerial appointments would include the Chief Executive, one student representative, one member nominated by the Academic Board and one other member appointed by the Council,” Maryan Street said.

“In the Bill reported back today, even those provisions have now gone, so there is no guarantee that students or staff will be appointed to polytechnic councils. This makes what was always a bad Bill even worse.

“The Government hasn’t even bothered to explain why this legislation stripping away community input into polytechnic councils is necessary and now it’s gone a step further and removed provision for the most critical stakeholder – the students – to be represented.

“At a time when jobs and skills should be a top priority, Education Minister Anne Tolley has moved to rob polytechnics of the stakeholder input they need to ensure they are doing the best job possible.

“Polytechnics, their students and staff, and their local communities will be increasingly concerned about not only the Government’s actions, but its motives.
Anne Tolley has got some serious explaining to do,” Maryan Street said.


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