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Govt looking to politicise student representation

30 October 2019

The Minister of Education’s proposal to establish a National Centre for Student Voice would be a waste of public funding as its purpose is unclear and questionable, National’s Associate Tertiary Education spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“National believes student voice needs to be at the centre of our tertiary system, however an organisation like this will become a taxpayer funded political training ground for Labour Party activists.

“The tertiary system is already heavily politicised. Out of the 16 Labour Cabinet Ministers, four were presidents of their university Student Associations, including Minister Hipkins himself, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, and previous Labour Party Leader Andrew Little.

“We are glad the Minister has rejected proposals to reinstate compulsory student membership but, in the same vein, the Government shouldn’t be using taxpayer money to fund student politicking.

“Students voices are already integrated into our tertiary system through student unions/associations, University and Polytech Councils, and other entities. It is up to these bodies to represent students in different contexts and provide any professional development that they see fit, not the taxpayer through another expensive centre.

“This however could all be a guilty response to the Review of Vocational Education which is proposing to dismantle regional academic boards and the student voice on those boards. Instead of wasting more taxpayer dollars, the Minister should ditch these reforms.

“National believes it is important students have strong voices and that those voices are heard and taken into account, however an organisation like this will end up as a publically funded political training ground for future Labour Ministers.”

ends

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