Student leaders and tertiary staff are aghast they may no
longer be guaranteed places on polytechnic councils.
In August, Tertiary Education Minister Anne Tolley announced
plans to fast-track legislation to reduce the number of
places on councils to eight.
At present, councils can be as big as 20.
On Friday, in a surprise move, the education and science
select committee considering the National Polytechnics'
Amendment Bill recommended the four ministerial appointments
on the new councils be given the power to appoint four other
people, not stating who those people should be.
If passed into law, there might be no places on council for
student, staff, iwi, union and industry representatives.
Institution chief executives would also not be guaranteed a
Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) acting
president Meegan Cloughley, who sits on the Otago Polytechnic
council, said the move would bring competition for seats from
groups who felt they should be represented as of right.
"I am absolutely disgusted . . .
"The Government seems to want to turn students into cash cows
rather than let them take ownership of their studies," Ms
Student leaders including herself attending a national
presidents' training conference at the weekend were "very
disturbed and very disconcerted" by the move, she said.
Protest action was being planned locally and nationally, but
the detail was not yet confirmed, Ms Cloughley said.
The Bill had moved "from a travesty to a farce", tertiary
education union national secretary Sharn Riggs said in a
"This was the Government that told us it wanted to get the
nanny state government out of our lives and trust us to make
our own decisions, and yet here they are removing the
guarantee of staff and students having a say in their own