Rallying for university council role

New Zealand Union of Students' Association president Rory McCourt speaks during the Rally for...
New Zealand Union of Students' Association president Rory McCourt speaks during the Rally for University Council Democracy at the University of Otago Clocktower Building yesterday. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Protesters at the University of Otago Clocktower Building yesterday.
Protesters at the University of Otago Clocktower Building yesterday.

Dozens rallied on the steps of the Clocktower Building yesterday pushing for student and staff representation on university councils.

Under the Education Amendment Act, which came into force last month, the size of university councils is decreased from 12 to 20 members to eight to 12 members and mandatory staff, student and union membership of councils is removed.

About 50 people joined New Zealand Union of Students' Associations president Rory McCourt and Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey in protesting the changes and pushing for student and staff representation.

Dr Grey said the protest marked the launch of a national campaign to ensure staff and student representation on student councils was enshrined in a constitution.

Under the Act, tertiary education providers have to write new governing constitutions which detail council membership and representation.

Dr Grey said the union was pushing for one-third of all councils to be student and staff representatives.

''We are determined to keep working to get the Act changed but in the meantime we are working to get the best we can and the best we can is that a third of representatives are democratically elected students and staff, not appointed,'' she said.

Mr McCourt said students and staff were needed to ensure the universities were ''asking the big questions that universities exist to ask''.

''The importance of this cannot be overstated in the context of a ministerial power-grab.''

Labour Party tertiary education spokesman David Cunliffe yesterday introduced a member's Bill into the ballot supporting NZUSA and TEU.

The Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill seeks to restore student and staff participation in university councils.

Otago University Students' Association president Paul Hunt said the association could not join the rally as it was busy organising the Hyde St Keg Party.

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