There are fears a Government plan to change the way
universities are run will result in students and the local
community having less of a say.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) believes the Government
will soon announce plans to ''wrest control of university
councils into the hands of its own ministerial appointees''.
TEU national secretary Sharn Riggs said the changes would
likely mirror those previously made to polytechnic councils.
The reforms to polytechnic councils ended mandatory student
membership, reduced the number sitting on councils to eight
from about 18 and gave more power to Tertiary Education
Minister Steven Joyce when it came to appointing members.
She feared the changes to university councils - as they had
with polytechnics - would mean reduced community, staff and
''It's just another way of shutting down the community
ownership of tertiary institutions.''
Both Ms Riggs and Otago University Students' Association
president Francisco Hernandez did not believe the Government
would get rid of student representation altogether, but were
concerned the number of students on councils would be
Mr Hernandez, who is also a member of the University of
Otago's council, said the Government's moves were worrying
and believed it would be a step backwards if student and
community representation was reduced.
Having two student members on the council meant he was not
the ''lone student voice'' and there were certain motions
which could not be moved if there was only one student
member, he said.
Having two members also gave students more coverage on the
various council subcommittees.
A spokesman for Mr Joyce said any announcement on the changes
was ''still weeks away''.
The spokesman previously said Mr Joyce had ''made no secret
of his preference for smaller councils with appointments made
on the basis of skills and experience''.
''This is in line with international best practice and the
principles of good governance.''