Labour would overturn any Government changes to the make-up
of university ruling bodies if elected, the party's tertiary
education spokesman Grant Robertson said in Dunedin
Mr Robertson made the promise at a protest outside the
University of Otago registry building, with his speech coming
20 years after he, as Otago University Students' Association
(OUSA) president, and other students occupied the very same
building to protest fee rises.
The OUSA and Tertiary Education Union-organised protest comes
after Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced
plans to cut the maximum size of university and wananga
governing councils from 20 members to 12.
Mr Robertson slammed the proposed changes as yet another
attempt by the National Government to silence dissent.
''I can tell you that if the Labour Party is in government
next year, we will reverse these changes, we will return a
representative model to university councils,'' he said.
He agreed with comments made by OUSA president Francisco
Hernandez that the proposals represented an attack on
''It will reduce the say of individual staff and students, by
removing the legislative provision for student and staff
representation,'' Mr Hernandez said.
Mr Joyce, who was visiting Dunedin yesterday, said the
changes were part of an effort to keep New Zealand
universities ahead in an increasingly competitive sector.
''People that are open-minded and not politically blinkered,
if I may say so respectfully to my friend Mr Robertson, are
prepared to look at options, because they know the world is
changing and we have got to keep innovating,'' Mr Joyce said.
The proposed changes would not see an end to representation
on student councils, instead giving universities the right to
choose on the issue.
''I would fully expect most, if not all universities, to
adopt constitutions which would have some representation.''
About 80 people turned up to yesterday's protest, compared
about 1000 who took part in 1993.
Mr Robertson noted students were more political in his day.