MPs must allow more time to hear from public

Posted By TEU on Jul 6, 2017 |


Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 22

More than one-hundred students, academics, general staff and union representatives have told MPs not to rush debate on a law that will make sweeping changes to the way tertiary education is funded.

The new law would give Ministers greater powers to divert public funds away from public tertiary education providers and hand them to private companies  instead. There are widespread fears this could reduce access to tertiary education for future generations of students.

More than 2,000 people recently wrote to the Select Committee telling MPs they reject the changes and instead want a tertiary education sector that is public, local and focused on teaching and learning.

The submissions were followed this week by publication of an open letter where signatories tell the Education and Science Select Committee Chair, Jian Yang MP, that more time is needed for New Zealanders to learn about the proposed changes and to participate in a discussion about what they mean for public tertiary education.

The open letter was prompted by concerns that National is trying to get the law passed before the election. For this to happen, the National Government would have to cut short discussion in the select committee process.

“The law is opposed by thousands of people and we are worried that if the Select Committee doesn’t allow more time to debate the proposed changes these views won’t be properly listened to,” Sharn Riggs national secretary of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), said.

“We owe it to the democratic process to ensure these voices are heard,” Jonathan Gee, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, said.

Nicola Gaston, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, said National’s increased privatisation of tertiary education “was a matter of huge public interest, and many voices need to be given the opportunity to be heard.”

Professor Jane Kelsey, also from the University of Auckland, said that “once in place, this law may be irreversible under New Zealand’s trade in services obligations,” highlighting that the proposed changes warrant a much longer public debate than National appears willing to allow.

There are serious concerns that rushing debate will also not allow enough time to look at what the implications of the law change might be for Māori.

“I hope the Select Committee’s chair, Dr. Yang, will listen to our concerns and allow more time for a public discussion about how opening up tertiary education to private and profit-driven providers will impact Māori,” Carla Jeffrey, Te Tumu Āwhina TEU Te Toi Ahurangi said.

Parliament is on recess for two weeks from the end of today.

Current indications are that the Select Committee will have only one more evidence session at the end of July, raising the prospect that the Minister, Paul Goldsmith, will try to rush the Bill’s return to Parliament for its second reading shortly afterwards.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Public hearings on tertiary education law change continue
  2. Division of MIT the subject of investigation
  3. Draft strategy shifts focus to quality of international education

Other news

The Southland Times reported that a Ministerial decision about whether or not to approve the takeover of Lincoln University’s Telford division is still two weeks away – Stuff

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has published the results of a joint project on the comparability of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and the European Qualifications Framework – NZQA

The Ministry for Education has handed responsibility for the running of professional development for teachers to the Education Council – Beehive

Careers New Zealand is now part of the Tertiary Education Commission, after the Education (Update) Amendment Act took effect on 1 July – Scoop

Education New Zealand has published its latest monthly report on student visas – ENZ

Chief Executive of the Ara Institute of Canterbury, Kay Giles, has retired – Stuff

Administrators have finalised the sale of Intueri’s private establishment to New Education Group Limited, the vocational and higher education division of ACG Education – NZX

The Government has started free trade negotiations with Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru, including in education issues – MFAT

A New Zealand International Students’ Association will launch later this year – Pie News

Tertiary Education Minister, Paul Goldsmith, has approved $85 million for Lincoln University’s shared facilities with AgResearch – Beehive

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