The SST report:
The Government plans to drastically overhaul the way polytechnics operate by slashing the size of their governing councils.
The move has the potential to dump about 250 of the 400 existing councillors, including chairmen.
Education Minister Anne Tolley has met Dave Guerin, executive director of the national association for institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPNZ), and outlined her plans, which would cut all councils to just eight members. They generally have between 14 and 20.
I think this is a step in the right direction, for two reasons:
- Almost all the known research has concluded that governance boards of greater than around nine tend to be relatively ineffective.
- A number of polytechnics have had significant financial issues, and I doubt the Government is convinced the status quo works well for the $600 million a year invested.
The proposed new structure would comprise four ministerial appointees, the CEO, an academic board representative, a student representative and one member co-opted by the council.
Guerin also reveals Tolley would appoint the chairman, probably from one of the ministerial appointees.
This would not be suitable for universities, as their role with academic freedom means the Minister appointing the Chancellor and most Council members would be a problem.
But for polytechnics, this seems fairly reasonable – it means the Minister actually has control over how the institution is governed.
But the changes are set to erode the traditional composition of polytech councils, removing employer, Maori, union and other community group representatives.
A good polytechnic will have strong relationships with these key stakeholders. But that does not mean they need to be on the governing board. In fact it can often lead to conflicts of interest IMO.
It will be interesting to see what the Government finally proposes.Tags: Anne Tolley, polytechnics, tertiary education