Vice-chancellors slate council changes

A group representing University of Otago and other New Zealand universities has come out strongly against changes to university councils.

This comes after Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced last week the Government was proceeding with plans to reform university councils ''to create smaller, skills-based councils that can respond more quickly and strategically to the challenges of modern-day tertiary education''.

Universities New Zealand chairman Prof Roy Crawford said yesterday the changes were of ''great concern'' to the university sector.

''They remove the legal requirement for democratically elected students, staff and other representatives to sit on councils, undermining a model of governance that has worked well to reflect the broad range of voices universities represent,'' Prof Crawford said.

The planned changes were not based on evidence and were inconsistent with international best practice, he said.

''The reasons given for the changes are to make university councils faster-moving and responsive. Our universities, however, are amongst the best-performing and most efficient in the world.''

Universities needed autonomy and academic freedom to be the critic and conscience of society, he said.

''New Zealand's universities can only perform this role if they are independent of government and vested interests.

''Moves to increase the proportion of ministerial appointees and the control that government has over university councils will be a backwards step for New Zealand.''

Universities New Zealand comprises the vice-chancellors of New Zealand's eight universities.


Stand up Otago

The legitimate complaints of the University Vice Chancellors about the way the current Government is directing the way universities will be managed by "reforming" University Councils is similar to the way the Ag Research Board is downgrading Invermay.

The government appoints some or all of the boards; directs the outcomes wanted and then sits back at arms length and pretends not to be involved.

At the upcoming General Election farmers and academics should vote for the politicians who are prepared to guarantee the autonomy of those that sit on these CRI and university boards.

Is it just a coincidence that Andrew West the now Vice Chancellor of Lincoln University was once the CEO of Ag Research?


Typical sneakly power grab by a bunch of ratbags. Since when did increasing the proportion of ministerial appointees ever make an organisation more responsive to anything but the government minister who appointed them?