Plans to restore the legal right of staff and students to have a representative on Tertiary Education Institution councils will strengthen decision-making, ensuring it better reflects the demands of teaching and learning, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) said.
The Education Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament this week by Education Minister Chris Hipkins will require all universities, polytechnics and wānanga to have staff and student representatives as full members of their councils. The changes are the result of years of campaigning by TEU members for staff to a have a greater say in the strategic direction of their institutions.
“These changes are credit to our members for not giving up in their campaign to have a much greater say in how their institutions are run. They have known all along that the best results are achieved when staff, students, institutions and the local community are collectively responsible for decisions about the teaching, learning and research that is carried out at our institutions, and it is great to have a government that has finally listened,” Sandra Grey, national president of the Tertiary Education Union, said.
The Bill, once passed into law, will primarily affect polytechnic councils, many of which removed staff and student seats when the previous National-led Government scrapped the representation requirement. However, the TEU said the legislation still needed to be strengthened if genuine democratic accountability is to be restored to university, polytechnic and wānanga councils.
“Whilst the government should be congratulated for taking this step, it is important to note that for us this is just the start of a conversation. For representatives to properly reflect the needs of students, staff and the wider community there needs to be more than just one representative of each group sitting on council. We will be calling on the government to amend the Bill to allow for councils of 12 and 18 members, with one third of seats reserved for staff and student representatives,” Grey added.