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September 10, 2012 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Hurricane Joyce


Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce is continuing his crusade against university councils.

Councils were “often slow to react to changing circumstances, not pursuing commercialization of research as effectively as possible, and were lagging in their international education initiatives,” Joyce said.

He had previously commented on the size of university councils in May, following the announcement of a government-led review of the councils at all eight universities.

Joyce’s comments are being disputed by Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, and the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

Roger France, Chair of the Chancellors’ Committee believes that New Zealand’s university system is the most efficient in the world and that council size is not detrimental to university performance.

“New Zealand university councils have an average of 18 members and many of the world’s leading universities, such as Harvard, Cambridge and Stanford, have governing bodies as large, or larger, than this,” France said.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor and Universities New Zealand Chair, Professor Pat Walsh, also commends the work being done by our universities.

“Our universities rate alongside or ahead of prestigious universities such as MIT and Stanford in their ratio of contract research to total research income and in their patent productivity.”

In 2009 student, staff and community representation was removed from polytechnic councils. Consequently, on those councils, ministerial appointees now hold a voting majority.

TEU President, Sandra Grey, believes that this was a poor decision and hopes that university councils will continue to serve the needs of their institution, rather than serving the “Minister of the day.”

“University councils need to be independent from the minister, no matter what political persuasion, so that they focus on their legally required duties as internationally respected learning institutes, rather than chasing short term political goals,” Grey said.


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