Students and staff need a stronger voice

Posted By TEU on Aug 10, 2018 |

Last week, Annemarie Jutel, Professor of Health at Victoria University, was part of a TEU panel presenting to MPs on the Education Select Committee about the Government’s proposals to return students and staff to tertiary education institution councils. Here she shares her views on why it’s so important the Bill passes and allows for a much stronger voice for students and staff.

For too long tertiary education has been in the hands of corporate New Zealand, with a growing emphasis on education as a numbers business rather than as an intellectual endeavour.

Students and staff represent the spirit of intellectualism, which has been subjugated to a corporatisation of the university sector over the past decade. Blue skies thinking, as represented by a strong voice for staff and students, is vital to the success of our universities – and to solving the challenges facing our communities.

One of the reasons this is so important is that students have a fresh and non-jaundiced way of seeing the world, which can open doors that staid corporates may never have even thought of. This is what we do in
universities – look at the world in new ways that shines a light on possibility.

We need look no further than our political leaders from across the parties for evidence of the fact that it takes more than a mind for numbers to successfully run a country (much like a university).

Former Prime Minister Bill English has an honours degree in English literature from Victoria University, Michael Cullen trained in history, and the current Minister of Health, David Clarke, has a PhD in Christian existentialism, the chair of the Education and Workforce Select Committee, Parmjeet Parmar, has a PhD in Neuroscience. If they can run our country, then we can run our universities.

These important critical and intellectual views of the world are what make tertiary education the place to define our challenges, explore our potential, and solve our problems. We need to ensure that our councils have strong representation of staff and students, not just a token individual or two.

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