Posted on 28. Nov, 2012 in News

The Baillieu Government has rammed through changes to Victorian universities and TAFEs that will remove elected representatives on their boards of management, Shadow Minister for Higher Education and Skills Steve Herbert said today.

Mr Herbert said the Baillieu Government used its majority in both houses to pass the Education Amendment (Governance) Bill 2012, which will provide unprecedented power to the Minister to appoint board members, removing democratically elected positions.

“It is a sad day for higher education in Victoria – boards that set the direction of Universities and TAFEs will no longer have student and staff representative seats,” Mr Herbert said.

“Instead Skills Minister Peter Hall, the man who bought us $290 million worth of TAFE cuts, is now ripping democratic representation from university and TAFE boards in Victoria.

“As a result of these changes, staff and students will now be cut out of their positions as elected representatives on university councils.”

Mr Herbert said that decades of democratically elected student and staff positions on university councils are now being overturned.

“The Baillieu Government has not provided one good reason why Victoria’s strong tradition of democracy and autonomy in university governance should be overturned,” he said.

“The lack of broad consultation on these changes is a disgrace and sends the wrong message to all students and staff that their views are not worth considering.

“This cynical power grab is a direct attack on the democratic nature of Victorian universities and threatens their autonomy.

“For TAFE institutes, the changes rammed through Parliament also amount to a politicisation of TAFE boards, with the Minister hand-picking half the members while ‘taking advice’ on the other half.”

Mr Herbert said the changes were by a Government desperate to limit criticism from the sector they have gutted with funding cuts.

“This comes at the worst possible time, when TAFEs are struggling for their very survival after the government’s savage funding cuts,” Mr Herbert said.

“The effect on both universities and TAFEs will be less criticism, less dissenting view and worse outcomes for staff and students.”

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