The introduction of voluntary student membership has proved a difficult transition for many students’ associations, and too difficult for some (particularly at institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)). Yet the desire to ensure that a student voice is able to contribute to questions of quality, the responsiveness of the institution that students study at, and policy and implementation issues that are considered on a national basis remains paramount.
Within this context the current government introduced legislation to regulate the setting of compulsory student services fees (the CSSF regulatory environment) that requires institutions to consult with students or, preferably, with student representatives.
Further, current moves to remove students from the governing bodies of universities and wānanga are also likely to result in requirements to build systems to ensure that the student voice is still able to inform institution’s governing bodies’ decision-making. This should be extended to ITPs where students have already been removed from their institution’s Councils.
We remain concerned at the tertiary system continuing to underperform for particular groups and further that the targeting and cuts to the student support scheme of recent years has worked against the goals of reducing unequal outcomes as expressed in the Tertiary Education Strategy.
We are aware that international research indicates that the key barrier for underrepresented groups is a lack of understanding of the benefits and familial support for potential students from backgrounds where higher level tertiary education is not normalised through previous experience.
Accordingly we believe that targeting that focuses on “Māori and Pasifika” or even “lower-socio-economic” is not necessarily as well directed as it could be, though such groups would necessarily be the principle users of the scheme outlined here.Read more