The Education and Science Select Committee is due to report back to Parliament next week on the ACT Party’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill which would impose voluntary student membership on students’ associations around New Zealand. The Committee received more than 4400 submissions, with an overwhelming 98% opposed to the Bill.
Submitters opposed to the Bill included students, many universities and polytechnics from around the country, students’ associations, roopū, the Tertiary Education Union, supportive NGOs and community organisations, the Human Rights Commission, and Ako Aotearoa (National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence). As well as hearing numerous submitters in Wellington, the Committee also travelled to Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin to hear submitters.
NZUSA is describing the Bill as an ideological solution in search of a problem. In the face of widespread opposition NZUSA Co-President Pene Delaney is challenging the National Party to abandon its support for the bill.
“National needs to consider the feedback from those in the tertiary sector at the coalface of delivering important services, facilities and representation to students. Submitters recognised the Bill is unworkable, not supported by students, would result in major new costs to Government, institutions and students, and would cause significant disruption to the sector,” said Mr Delaney.
“In contrast, the few who supported the Bill were mostly confined to individuals with narrow concerns regarding just one campus. The needs and stability of the tertiary sector cannot and should not be put unnecessarily at risk on the whim of a few,” said Mr Delaney.