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Polytechnic Councils Will Become Political Puppets

MEDIA RELEASE: 23 November 2009
ATTENTION: Education and Political Reporters

Polytechnic Councils Will Become Political Puppets

“ACT and National support a move for tertiary education to become elitist. Every day New Zealanders will no longer be able voice their concerns about the quality of education. This irrational change includes the removal of student representation on Polytechnic (ITP) Councils which is completely irresponsible.” Rawa Karetai, President of the Albany Students’ Association (ASA).

“The Education and Science Select Committee’s report back on the Education (Polytechnic Governance) Amendment shows that they also seek to hobble students’ associations by amending the Education Act to move from a representative engagement model to a model which gives the Minister of Education direct political control. No Staff representation, no Union representation, no Maori representation, no Student representation, no Community representation and no explanation; it’s about ‘engagement’ a word National and ACT apparently don’t know the meaning of.” Said Karetai.

“Sir Roger Douglas recommends removing student representation on ITP Councils as a precursor for doing the same to University Councils. ACT’s solution – no representation at all. There is on average a 40-year age gap between Council members and students at their institutions, there will be a gaping hole at the decision making table leaving half of the stripped back Council (12 to 20 members down to 8) as political appointments (including the Chair and Deputy Chair).” Said Karetai.

“If ACT is under the naive belief that removing the current system in favour of one where individual ‘clients’ as opposed to collectives will thrive and survive, they fail to appreciate the pragmatic reality of pluralism and where it fails in operation with respect to the unfeeling bureaucracy of tertiary institutions.” Said Karetai.

“The last thing anyone in Sir Roger’s position wants is a system where students can expect any real representation and is another nail in the coffin of the concept of tertiary institutions being anything but ‘production lines’ as opposed to ‘institutions of higher learning’. If you can’t put a price tag on it or measure it in ‘outputs’ or ‘throughputs’ – the political right don’t want to know about it.” Said Karetai. “...And that is really the point – ACT don’t care – their ideology is to move EVERY social service to a private provider – Health, ACC, and Education are all in the headlights of their tiny political car.”


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