Who should rule the university?
Last week you should have received an email from the Chancellor, Sir Neville Jordan, titled “Victoria University Council Consultation”. It’s not every day that you get an email from the Chancellor asking for your views on who you want to run your university—so make sure you don’t ignore it!
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce recently changed the legislation requiring student and staff representation on university councils, prompting Victoria to begin this consultation process with its wider community. Like many students, you may not be aware of the existence of the Uni Council or what it does, so here’s a brief rundown and why it is so important that students take part in this consultation.
While the day-to-day going ons of Vic are determined by a team of top dog staff known as the “Senior Leadership Team”, the buck ultimately stops with Uni Council. As the governing body, it’s ultimately responsible for everything that happens here and the long-term strategic direction. There are a lot of competing interests and roles of a university, and the composition of the Council reflects that. Presently it’s made up of a mix of academics, alumni, reps from the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ, Ministerial appointees, and a few co-opted for specific skills (e.g. accountants and lawyers), and students (Stella Blake-Kelly and myself).
With so many competing interests and voices around the table, student representation is vital to ensure that the University delivers an education and experience that is as good as the marketing makes it out to be. A large part of achieving this is to ensure that the academic freedom, integrity and quality of what and how we’re being taught is retained. So it is also incredibly important that academic staff remain a part of Uni Council.
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In an institution as large and complex as Vic, it’s essential that the experience of the reality of Uni life is present at the Council table. Teaching and learning are the essence of a university, and I can’t help but think pessimistically about the future of this institution if academics and students don’t have a say in its direction.
No other university is having such extensive consultation. The email you received went to 40,000 alumni, 20,000 students and 2,000 staff. The university community is what makes Victoria great, so make sure you dig up that email and let Council know that students and academics are an important part of that community too.