The University of Otago is part of a sector-wide fight
calling on the Government to back off proposed changes to the
way universities are run.
The university has joined hundreds of other individuals and
institutions who have made submissions against proposed
changes included in the Education Amendment Bill, which is
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce this year announced
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
The changes included decreasing the size of councils from 12
to 20 members to eight to 12 members and removing mandatory
staff, student and union membership of councils.
The minister would still appoint four members to councils
with 10 to 12 members, resulting in a greater proportion of
Government appointees than before.
Mr Joyce yesterday stood by the changes, saying they were
needed in an increasingly competitive international
''Smaller, more agile university councils will help New
Zealand universities meet strategic challenges like adapting
more quickly to the needs of a rapidly changing employment
market, adapting to new challenges from changing technology
in teaching and learning, and strengthening their
international linkages much more quickly and effectively.
''New Zealand universities have been doing reasonably well
for the last few years on the back of significant funding
increases despite tight fiscal conditions, but they are
operating in an increasingly competitive and challenging
international environment,'' he said.
The university's written submission to the education and
science select committee on the Bill, obtained by the
Otago Daily Times yesterday, calls on the Government
to scale back the changes, arguing the current model was
''Even in recent tight financial times, [New Zealand
universities] have continued to lead the way ... while
remaining financially sound, and flexible in their ability to
respond to Government demands.''
''The membership of the council reflects the cross-section of
interests which has enabled a very effective approach to
developing a strategic direction and policies in order to
meet its goals.''
The university was also against a change requiring individual
members of the council to have a statutory duty to the
Minister, saying in order to ensure autonomy and academic
freedom, members should instead have a duty to the