Responding to the Tertiary Education Strategy

Governance of Tertiary Education Institutions

Changes to the governance of universities and wānanga

The 2014 year saw the introduction into Parliament of a Bill to amend the Education Act 1989 and make significant changes to the governance arrangements of university and wānanga. The main changes reduced the size of university and wānanga councils and refocused the recruitment of council members on skills and experience – a move away from the representative style of governance, in which council seats were allocated to stakeholder groups.

Role of the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and EmploymentTop

Preserving and enhancing the academic freedom and autonomy of TEIs was the declared intention of Parliament in enacting the provisions of the Education Act 1989 relating to those institutions. One of the special aspects of TEI governance is the balance between this autonomy and public accountability.

This is reflected in the role of the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (the Minister) in council appointments. The Minister appoints three or four of the council members but there is no ongoing direct relationship between the appointee and the Minister – the Ministerial appointees do not report to the Minister but, instead, are members of the team around the council table under the leadership of the council Chair or university Chancellor.

Ministerial appointments

The Minister appoints four of the eight members as well as the Chair and Deputy Chair of each ITP council. For universities and wānanga, under the new legislation, the Minister appoints three members on councils of eight or nine members, and four members on councils of 10, 11 or 12 members. Other members are appointed by each council in accordance with the council’s constitution or statute.

The term of office for all TEI council members is up to four years, but a shorter term of two or three years may be used by the Minister to help councils in succession planning. Members are able to remain in office until reappointed or replaced, so council members may serve beyond the end of their term of office.

Role of the Tertiary Education Commission in governanceTop

The TEC monitors and evaluates the governance capability of TEI councils. It advises the Minister on governance matters, including Ministerial appointments and fees for council members, and provides information and support for councils to enhance their governance capability.

Supporting the governance of TEIs

In 2014 the TEC prepared a guidance leaflet about the governance changes, which was ready to publish and distribute to all affected council members as soon as the new legislation was passed. In January 2015 the TEC also prepared a revised edition of its Governance Guide for Council Members of Tertiary Education Institutions to take account of the governance changes.

In addition, the TEC published three case studies of council-led initiatives in the ITP sector: Students First: The strategic partnership between WelTec and Whitireia; From Distance Learning to Connected Learning: Open Polytechnic’s new student journey; and Kick for the Seagulls: NorthTec’s new approach for the ‘kids up North’. More information on these case studies, including the full downloadable reports, can be found on the TEC website.

Induction and briefings

The TEC organised an induction and briefing session for council members in July 2014, which was attended by Ministerial and council appointees. The session was held at the Law School of Victoria University of Wellington and, as it is close to Parliament, the Minister was able to address participants.

For the first time, the TEC organised a session for council secretaries in August 2014, which included university registrars who hold this role. The day included a session with officials from the Ministry of Education about the progress of the legislative changes. The feedback recommended the TEC organise this event on an annual basis. The next meeting will be held in September 2015.

The TEC manages the process of Ministerial appointments and makes recommendations to the Minister on appointments and reappointments to TEI councils based on a skills framework that has been endorsed by the Tertiary Education Board of Commissioners. The criteria in the framework reflect both the statutory functions of councils and the Minister’s priorities. Further information on the appointments process is available on the TEC website.

Council appointment activity for 2014Top

There are 112 Ministerial appointees across 28 councils. As terms of office of Ministerial appointees expire, the Minister considers whether to reappoint them or make new appointments. The Minister takes into account the performance of the institution, the skills and experience represented on the council and, in the case of reappointments, the length of term already served.

The Ministerial appointment process was interrupted in 2014 by the General Election. No new appointments may be made within three months of the election and must be held for the incoming government. As a result, no Ministerial appointments were made after June 2014 until December 2014.

In 2014 the Minister made 33 appointments, of which 22 were reappointments and 11 new appointments. The Minister appointed nine new Chairs and Deputy Chairs to ITP councils.

University council appointments

During 2014 two new Ministerial appointments were made to university councils and two Ministerial appointees were reappointed.

The new Ministerial appointees were Dr Helen Anderson to Massey University council and Simon Graafhuis to the University of Waikato council. The Minister reappointed John Ward to the University of Otago council, where he is Chancellor, and Michael Ahie to the council of Massey University; the latter council subsequently elected Mr Ahie as Pro Chancellor.

Institutes of technology and polytechnic council appointments

The Minister appointed eight new candidates to ITP councils in 2014, including two as Chair, and made four new members as Deputy Chair of their respective institutions, as table 2 shows.

Table 2: New Ministerial appointees to ITP councils in 2014
Council Name of new Ministerial appointee Position
Aoraki Polytechnic Janie Annear Chair
Aoraki Polytechnic Anne Marett Deputy Chair
Manukau Institute of Technology Brian Monk Deputy Chair
Open Polytechnic Vaughan Renner Deputy Chair
Universal College of Learning Leanne Southey Member
Unitec Institute of Technology Dr Lee Mathias Chair
Unitec Institute of Technology Sarah Haydon Member
Waikato Institute of Technology Steve Howse Deputy Chair

In addition, Murray Bain, Deputy Chair of the Open Polytechnic, was appointed Chair at the end of Graeme Hall’s term of appointment; and Malcolm Inglis, Deputy Chair of the Universal College of Learning (UCOL), was appointed Chair at the end of Trevor Goodwin’s term, with Ministerial appointee Ben Vanderkolk appointed UCOL’s Deputy Chair.

The Minister reappointed 19 ITP council members during 2014. Eleven of the reappointments were as Chair or Deputy Chair. The reappointments included: Ian Turner as Chair and Neil Barns as Deputy Chair of the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic; Elizabeth Hopkins as Deputy Chair of Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology; David Pearson as Chair of the Eastern Institute of Technology; Erima Henare as Deputy Chair of NorthTec (since deceased); Kathy Grant as Chair of Otago Polytechnic; Peter Heenan as Deputy Chair of Southern Institute of Technology; John Clayton as Deputy Chair of Tai Poutini Polytechnic; Graeme Nahkies as Chair of Waiariki Institute of Technology; Mary Cave-Palmer as Chair of Waikato Institute of Technology; and Vaughan Renner as Deputy Chair of WelTec Whitireia combined council.

Wānanga council appointments

During 2014, two Ministerial appointments were made to the councils of two wānanga. The Minister appointed Dr Kathie Irwin to the council of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and reappointed Eddie Ellison to Te Wānanga o Raukawa council.

Diversity in governanceTop

The Government has committed to increasing diversity in leadership roles to realise the well-documented and internationally accepted benefits of diversity in board and council appointments. To assess progress against the Government’s priorities for board participation, the TEC monitors the demographics of councils and reports annually to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on gender representation.

As at December 2014, 37 percent of all appointees to TEI councils were women. While this is a shortfall against the aim of increasing women’s participation in state sector boards and committees to 45 percent by 2014, further opportunities for improving female leadership will be available over coming years.

In relation to Māori on TEI councils, overall participation was 23 percent, with 74 out of 327 members being Māori, based on self-declared ethnicity information as shown in table 3.

Table 3: Female and Māori members of all TEI councils, both Ministerial and council appointees, as at December 2014
  Female Māori
University councils 38% (46) 9% (13)
Institutes of technology and polytechnics councils 42% (57) 14% (19)
Wānanga councils 40% (19) 87% (42)
Total 37% (122) 23% (74)