Tertiary sector backs move to restore democracy

A Labour Member’s Bill to restore democracy to university councils has widespread support from the sector, says Tertiary Education Spokesperson David Cunliffe.

“The integrity of our public institutions has been under constant attack by Steven Joyce, who treats tertiary education as an input to industry and has no respect for staff or students.

“The silencing of students and staff at universities directly undermined their role as a critic and conscience in society. At the same time, National cronyism is rife throughout the sector, with the disastrous results plain to see.

The Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill would ensure mandatory student and staff representation on university councils and limit ministerial appointees to four.

The Tertiary Education Union welcomed the Bill, with national president Sandra Grey also calling for democracy to be restored at polytechnics and wānanga. This view was echoed by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association, who called on all MPs to support the Bill to select committee and allow a fair debate.

“A strong campaign by staff and students saw democracy restored to Victoria University’s governing council in August. Similar campaigns at other institutions show there is a huge appetite for good governance to be reinstated across the sector.

“My Bill will reverse the Government’s attempt to stifle democracy at universities and create debate about the commercialisation of education by National. The independence of tertiary institutions is an important function of a healthy democracy and should be enshrined in law,” David Cunliffe says.

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