Minister ignores staff concerns about speaking out

Posted By TEU on Apr 6, 2017 |

Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 12

Tertiary education staff fear speaking out about issues happening in their institutions, yet in comments earlier this week, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Paul Goldsmith, chose to ignore the problem.

Goldsmith was responding to recent media coverage about free speech on university campuses following publication of open letter signed by 27 high-profile New Zealanders.

The letter came one week after the Minister had been given a TEU report showing clearly that staff felt unable to speak out about issues happening in their institutions.

Commenting on the letter, Goldsmith sought to allay the concerns of 27 people, yet overlooked the experiences of over one thousand staff that said they were being ignored or silenced.

Sandra Grey, TEU national president, said the Minister’s decision to ignore the concerns staff raised simply proved the survey’s findings.

“That he would overlook the fact that staff wanting to speak out in defence of public education cannot for fear of the consequences, suggests Paul Goldsmith is running a tertiary education sector that he doesn’t fully understand,” Grey said.

“To claim we have free speech in our tertiary education institutions, when staff are being reprimanded for trying to improve the conditions of their colleagues and students misrepresents the lived reality for so many of our members.”

Extensive media coverage of the TEU report further proved that the fear of speaking out is rife in most tertiary education institutions.

Rather than feeling they can speak up in their own workplaces about the pressures to amend grades, or change how they deliver a course, staff have had to talk anonymously to broadcasters or comment on media websites.

Last week, Tim Fowler, Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Commission, gave out his mobile number live on Radio New Zealand and asked to be contacted with examples where staff had been pressured to pass students.

The TEU continues to receive calls and emails from staff wanting to share their experiences. Anyone wishing to do the same can contact the TEU on 0800 278 348.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. University staff launch Save Waikato’s ASS campaign
  2. TEU to ask National MPs about risks of Goldsmith’s Bill
  3. Students face cost of living crisis as National fails to offer enough support
  4. Ara staff survey released to media before staff
  5. TEU members celebrate general staff

Other news

The Education Council is proposing a requirement that people wanting to become teachers should first gain a postgraduate qualification – NZ Herald

The Victoria University of Wellington has developed a free online learning resource for New Zealand Sign Language – Victoria

The University of Canterbury announced it has enrolled more than 1,000 Māori students for the first time in its history – Newstalk ZB

The International College of New Zealand, a private training establishment, has been told by NZQA to stop enrolling new students and reporting results – RNZ

The University of Waikato and the Waikato District Health Board have established a Centre for Virtual Health Innovation – UoW

Wintec has expanded its professional development and industry compliance courses – Wintec

More than 100 students from the University of Auckland Medical Students’ Association have called on the university to end investments in fossil fuels – Voxy

Waikato District Health Board chief executive, Dr. Nigel Murray, said a joint proposal for a National School of Rural Health by the universities of Auckland and Otago is too little, too late – Rural News

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