Campaign for democratic councils launches today

Posted By TEU on Mar 19, 2015 |

A national campaign to get one-third of seats for democratically elected staff and students on university and wānanga councils kicks off at Otago University today with a rally on the university’s registry steps.

NZUSA president Rory McCourt and TEU president Sandra Grey will both be speaking at the campaign launch.

Rory McCourt says staff and students are the people that make universities great.

“We’re the one’s doing the teaching and learning, and asking the big questions that universities exist to ask.”

“The evidence, and over-whelming international experience, shows that these important perspectives add value to this kind of institution, and protect it against top-down group-think. The importance of this cannot be overstated in the context of a ministerial power-grab.”

Meanwhile the University of Canterbury told TEU representatives this week it intends to stick with its current council structure, which it adopted in 2013 in anticipation of the legislation – that is a council of 12, with two elected staff members and one elected student member.

Grey told the university’s chancellor, Dr John Wood, that structure did not address the power imbalance between ministerial appointees and staff and students, but it was good to see the university protecting the principle of democratic elections rather than appointments.

Last week the Dominion Post reported that Lincoln University is proposing a council model that guarantees only one staff and one student representative, neither of whom would be elected.

Grey says it was also good that Canterbury University saw an understanding of academic freedom and institutional autonomy as a crucial knowledge for all councillors to hold.

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