Concerns public debate on new tertiary education law could be cut short

Posted By TEU on Jul 13, 2017 | 1 comment

Tertiary Update Vol 20 No 23

MPs could stop hearing public submissions on a law that will fundamentally change the way tertiary education is funded on 2 August, the Chair of the Education and Science Committee has suggested in a letter to the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

Dr. Jian Yang was responding to an open letter signed by more than one hundred students, academics, general staff and union representatives.

The law, which would give Ministers greater powers to divert public funds away from public tertiary education providers and hand them to private companies instead, has been opposed by thousands of people.

More than 2,000 people 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 open letter to Dr. Yang was prompted by concerns that the Select Committee would not allow enough time to consider these views.

The Select Committee has held three evidence sessions so far, with only two more planned once Parliament returns from a fortnight’s recess.

It is expected that the session on 2 August will be the Committee’s last before it drafts its report, makes recommendations, if any, for amendment and sends the draft law back to Parliament for second reading.

This will leave seven sitting days before Parliament is expected to dissolve for the general election.

“There needs to be more time for New Zealanders to learn about the damaging changes National is trying to make and to participate in a discussion about what they mean for public tertiary education,” Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said.

There are some concerns that Tertiary Education Minister, Paul Goldsmith, will move to intentionally curtail public debate by putting the Bill under “urgency” to get it through before polling day.

A Minister can move an “urgency” motion in order to make progress on a Bill more quickly than what is possible under the normal rules. The motion can be moved without advance notice, and is not debated by the House.

The effect of this is that the Bill could be taken through more than one stage each sitting day.

The TEU said that such a move would be a deliberate attempt to sidestep a full, open and informed debate on what has proved to be hugely unpopular legislation.

“Any attempt to further curtail public debate on this damaging law would be met with dismay by the thousands of people who want to keep tertiary education public,” Grey said.

The TEU is currently inviting contributions to The People’s Submission which will tell the story of how public tertiary education has changed people’s lives.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. University of Otago staff braced for job cuts
  2. Change happens when union women come together
  3. MPs concerned about the use of public funds for private providers

Other news

The Tertiary Education Commission has updated the Performance-Based Research Fund IT system to reflect changes in the 2018 Quality Evaluation – TEC

The Tertiary Education Commission profiled the Kura to Career mentoring pilot it is funding, including details of a new “passport” for Māori secondary school students – TEC

Justine Munro has been appointed and Professor Neil Quigley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato, reappointed to the Board of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority – Beehive

Careerforce said that for the purposes of pay equity, care and support workers holding nursing degrees from the Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom now hold qualifications equivalent to the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 3) – Careerforce

Auckland University Students’ Association has formally cancelled its resignation from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association, choosing to retain full membership – Voxy

The University of Otago is opening a $5 million marine science laboratory at Portobello – ODT

Otago Polytechnic has announced a new level three Certificate in Construction Trade Skills at its Cromwell campus, beginning next year – ODT

Wintec is offering students the opportunity to take part in a part-time business incubator programme with Soda Inc – Wintec

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