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February 22, 2010 | by  | in News |
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The Great Tolley Hunt is Over

News
Student journalists “distraught”

Education Minister Anne Tolley had the tertiary education portfolio taken off her hands in a Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister John Key last month.

Steven Joyce took over as Minister of Tertiary Education, reportedly to allow Tolley more time to focus on the implementation of the controversial national standards for literacy and numeracy in primary schools.

The announcement marked the end of the “Great Tolley Hunt”, a quest embarked upon by student media outlets across the country in a bid to get Tolley to respond to requests for comment.

Tolley’s lack of engagement with students on tertiary education issues, and her reluctance to talk to student media, did little to instill confidence in the Minister.

Craccum reported that Tolley failed to keep an appointment with 2009 NZUSA Co-Presidents Sophia Blair and Jordan King in March last year.

Tolley was scheduled to speak at a VUWSA Student Representative Council (SRC) meeting in early October, but cancelled her appearance.

Tolley gave one interview with student media—Otago University’s Critic—during her time as the Minister of Tertiary Education. Salient pursued Tolley for an interview in late 2009, only to have repeated requests declined.

Tolley was also criticised for using a helicopter to get a bird’s eye view of Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) multiple campuses during a visit to the university.

Former Craccum Co-Editor Matthew Harnett was wearing his infamous “Anne Tolley M.I.A.” t-shirt when he was informed of the reallocation of the tertiary education portfolio.

“The tears rolled down my cheeks and fell on to her face,” Harnett said.

Former Salient Editor Jackson James Wood expressed dissatisfaction with Tolley’s inadequate efforts to engage with students.

“Her repeated efforts to avoid student media made her a silent, yet deadly enemy.”

A number of cuts were made across the tertiary education sector under Tolley’s watch in 2009, including slashing funding for night classes, the removal of consumer price index adjustments for funding to tertiary institutions, the disestablishment of the capital investment fund and the removal of the Step-Up and Bonded Merit scholarships.

Student politicians, refusing to comment on Tolley’s performance as Minister of Tertiary Education, have told Salient they are looking forward to working constructively with Joyce.

“We look forward to Steven being more willing to engage directly with students than his predecessor,” VUWSA President Max Hardy said.

Anne Tolley: A series of unfortunate events

Ms Tolley copped some severe criticism from student media outlets across the country during her reign as Minister of Tertiary Education. Were we justified in our complaints, mockery and dissatisfaction with the Minister responsible for overseeing the tertiary education sector? We’ll let you be the judge.

Tolley declined an invitation to speak at NZUSA’s January conference in 2009.

Tolley skipped an appointment with NZUSA Co-Presidents Sophia Blair and Jordan King. Craccum reported that Blair and King had flown from Auckland to make the meeting, only to be told that Tolley’s office had forgotten the appointment. They were incorrectly booked for April.

Salient, Craccum and Critic all approached Tolley for comment for stories, with varying degrees of success. Critic got a face-to-face interview with Tolley, Salient tried to do the same later in 2009 and failed.

Tolley told Salient in March 2009 that she “hadn’t had any involvement in student politics”.

Tolley decided it would be a good idea to take a helicopter to see all of AUT’s different campuses. Tolleycopter has a nice ring to it. Questions were raised in parliament as to the appropriateness of a minister taking a helicopter ride during an economic recession.

Funding for night classes was drastically cut in the 2009 budget. Tolley herself had participated in such classes.

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Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

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