Changes to the membership of university councils are a cynical move from the National Government to silence their critics, Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson Grant Robertson says.
“These changes are a solution in search of a problem. There is no problem with university governance or any call to make these changes.
“They are simply about silencing the voice of students and staff who have been vocal critics of National’s cuts to tertiary education.
“National has arrogantly dismissed the views of most of the more than two thousand submitters who opposed these changes. Universities themselves are at best lukewarm on the proposals, with our two largest institutions – Auckland and Otago – universities both outright opposing them.
“Cutting the right to automatic representation of students and staff is a further attack on the voice of critical parts of the university system.
“The removal of universal membership of student associations has significantly reduced student input into universities. Similar changes to polytechnic council membership has seen student representation disappear on most campuses.
“National might not like to hear criticism of their policies but they have no right to shut those voices down.
“Labour will oppose these changes and if they pass we will reverse them. It is perfectly possible to have a representative model which delivers the range of skills required to provide good governance in universities.
“The Government should respect the important role that universities play in our society and the special character of their governing arrangements,” Grant Robertson says.