Red Alert

Give students back their voice

Posted by on October 22nd, 2012

When the Tertiary Education Commission was being set up in 2002, the Minister in charge Steve Maharey was not all that keen for there to be student representation at the Board level. He argued it was not a representative body, and if students were given a seat as of right then that would open up the argument for too many other groups.

With the input of Nandor Tanczos and NZUSA a decision was made that there should be a non-voting student member of the Board. As is the way of these things Simon Power as the then Opposition Spokesperson tried to simultaneously claim credit for, and trash the idea.

And since the TEC has been established there has a been a student representative (in TEC speak a Non Voting Learner Representative). The role has been filled by a range of people and the feedback I have had is that the person has always given useful insights and behaved in a professional way.

So its a real slap in the face that the decision has been made to abolish the position. A double slap because there was no consultation, and this only emerged because NZUSA dragged the information out from the TEC. And it adds to a pattern from this government of taking away student voice (Polytechnic Councils, VSM, proposed reform of Uni Councils).

The TEC are dressing this up as being a reflection of their changed role with the policy function for tertiary education moving to the Ministry of Education. While that does represent a changed role, the tasks they still undertake remain important enough to students to justify the continuation of the position.

There is no better example of this than when the TEC considers at its next Board meeting the applications from Massey and Victoria universities to go beyond the maximum allowable fee increase (4%) to reportedly 8% for some courses. This is exactly the kind of discussion where a student perspective would be helpful, and in fact the right thing to have.

So, it comes down to Steven Joyce. He has the ability to direct the TEC to reinstate the position. Its time he channelled a bit of Simon Power’s enthusiasm for a student voice from a decade ago and did the right thing. Or is this a further nail in the coffin of the democratic traditions of supporting the right for dissenting voices. Your choice Steven.

6 Responses to “Give students back their voice”

  1. Dianne Khan says:

    So, students’ voices are being silenced, teachers too, and with no BOT in charter schools it looks like parents aren’t getting much of a say either. Where’s the democracy in any of this?

  2. bbfloyd says:

    Democracy??? this IS a national party government we are talking about..isn’t it?

    What have national ever had to do with democracy?

  3. Jack Ramaka says:

    Just listen to the man he knows what is best for NZ he has been a very successful businessman on the world stage and we have John Banks one of the pillars of Auckland Society as his offsider. These guys have proved themselves in the cut and thrust of the commercial world.

  4. bbfloyd says:…

  5. well, well, well says:

    It is not often that I would agree with Steve Maharey but he was right with this one. I am also sceptical about student representatives on School Boards.

  6. Dorothy says:

    It’s yet another indication of how backward-looking this government is. The idea that the elite know best and the plebs don’t need to be consulted is SO last century!