Auckland, Lincoln universities reject one-third democracy

Posted By TEU on Mar 12, 2015 |

Tertiary Update Vol 18 No 6

Universities around the country are starting to make public their stance on how many staff and students should be on their university councils.

The University of Auckland held meeting with staff this week where it is proposing a model of one academic staff member, one general staff member and one student.

Meanwhile Lincoln University told a TEU delegation yesterday that it was seeking to establish a council with one student, and one academic staff member, and ordinarily a general staff employee would sit on council but not as of right. Staff and alumni on the council would be appointed by the council based on their skills rather than elected. Lincoln also argued that the vice-chancellor should hold a seat on council and count as a staff member.

Lincoln University’s council expects to make its decision on its future composition in June, after four weeks of consultation with its communities.

TEU national president Sandra Grey says TEU’s position is clear – one-third of council seats should be set aside for democratically elected staff and students.  On a council of 12 members that is four seats.

“The minister has made a power grab reducing the size of councils and increasing the voting power of his appointees.  The only way for university communities to counteract that power is to establish our own democratically elected block of councillors who are independent of the minister, and representative of their communities.

“The exact composition of that one-third of seats does not matter, the important principle is that we provide a counterbalance to the minister’s growing power.”

In its submission to parliament last year the vice-chancellors body, Universities New Zealand, argued that current students, current permanent academic staff, current permanent general staff and alumni should each be represented by at least one dedicated position on the council.

Grey says universities are moving fast to establish new councils.

“Staff and students need to make sure our voice is protected on these new councils. Independent, democratically elected representatives are the best protection we have against the risk of the minister’s appointees dominating councils.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week

  1. Purple women stand for feminism
  2. MIT proposes longer hours and performance pay
  3. Weltec agreement anticipates new CE
  4. World-leading research threatened by telecommunications act
  5. Unions using courts to protect workers’ rights

Other news

The tertiary sector should expect much of the same from this year’s Budget, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says – Otago Daily Times

NorthTec has limited where smoking is allowed on its Raumanga campus, but many staff remain “furious” it refuses to go entirely smokefree – Northern Advocate

WITT’s chief executive says the polytechnic is on track to meet its financial targets for the year, despite the hit from a multi-million-dollar payback to the Government – Taranaki Daily News

Funding for vocational farm training is becoming the poor cousin of other, more academic education, retiring Telford director Charley Lamb says – NZ Farmers Weekly

Thousands of people have gathered around the country to demand greater disclosure over a controversial TPPA trade deal – TVNZ

Lower unionization in advanced economies is correlated with an increase in inequality – International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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