Last week Critic wrote about OUSA’s submission on the Government’s new policy around tertiary students, and the gist was that while they liked the vibe, they didn’t like the details. The Uni seem to agree, saying that the Code is “eminently sensible” but also has a lot of problems.
OUSA seemed to think that the policy treated students like babies that needed to be coddled by institutions. The University chimed in this week with a similar statement, mostly echoing OUSA’s opinion and noting that the proposed Code seems very one-dimensional in focusing on freshers and nobody else.
A statement from Director of Strategy, Analytics, and Reporting David Thomson said that the Uni was “supportive in a general sense of what the Code [of Pastoral Care] is seeking to achieve” but that it “risks pushing universities to take an even greater interest in students’ lives beyond the academic.”
Specific aspects of the Code that the University is concerned with revolve around the focus on freshers as opposed to the diverse groups of students at the University, like mature students, senior undergrads and postgrads. Thomson also noted that the proposed policy “does not acknowledge the issues that institutions and students face because of an overstretched public health service, and a severely overstretched mental health service.” He said that the University’s submission on the policy will mainly revolve around these issues.
It’s promising that the University is noting that the implementation of government policy will put them at loggerheads with students, which will hopefully lead to less interference overall. The policy also threatens to heavily punish tertiary institutions for failing to protect student wellbeing, which again forces the University to be heavy-handed in its interactions with students — something which they don’t want to be, according to Thomson.
The Uni also doesn’t like the overuse of the term “learner” in the Code, but noted that it’s been used frequently in other Government documents so it’s unreasonable to expect that to change. Overall, the University mostly agrees with OUSA on issues in the code, and hopefully the shared sentiment from New Zealand’s oldest university and its students’ association can sway policymakers in making improvements to the Code.