A group representing University of Otago and other New
Zealand universities has come out strongly against changes to
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
Universities New Zealand chairman Prof Roy Crawford said
yesterday the changes were of ''great concern'' to the
''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.