Governance Changes

Governance Proposal Ill-considered and Unnecessary

11 February 2014

Press Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

Tertiary Minister Steven Joyce has announced today that he is to proceed with his widely condemned “reforms” of university & wānanga governance.

“NZUSA believes that the proposed changes are wrong-headed and unnecessary, and inconsistent with international norms and international best practice. They risk undermining the integrity and the robust decision-making processes that are currently in place”, says Daniel Haines, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

“The proposal will make New Zealand’s university’s governing bodies amongst the smallest in the world, and would be dangerously dominated by government appointees. All of the world’s high-performing institutions that we want our universities to be comparable with have students and academics on their governing boards”, said Haines.

“NZ tertiary institutions are doing well, despite a chronic shortage of funds. Further, the claim that ITPs have performed better financially since the governance changes imposed on them is not borne out by the evidence.

“Our analysis of current Council membership shows that making Council membership ‘more flexible’, and giving more power to the Minister, will lead to Councils that are dangerously unrepresentative of the communities that they are meant to serve.

“It is ridiculous that under this proposal there will be no students as of right on University and Wānanga councils, yet a student voice is enshrined in the governance arrangements of every secondary school in New Zealand. Especially given that students are the stakeholder with the greatest interest in the long term performance of the institution.

“Defending the student voice is of vital importance to students and their representatives, and as students return to study over the next few weeks, and as the proposed legislation is subject to legislative scrutiny, NZUSA will be coordinating opportunities for students to make their voices heard in defending their right to determine their own educational futures.”