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Victoria plans changes to university governance

Vicotoria’s state government plans to shake up the governance of universities and technical and further education (TAFE) institutions.

Legislation introduced into the state parliament last week seeks to remove representatives of faculty members, students and other groups from university councils and TAFE boards.

The government says that staff and students can still be appointed as members. But they must demonstrate the “necessary skills” and the positions must be balanced by extra members appointed by the government.

“It takes very specific skills to oversee a large public educational institution,” said Peter Hall, Victoria’s minister for higher education and skills.

The University of Melbourne has criticised the move. The chancellor, Elizabeth Alexander, said the presence of staff and students adds transparency to the university’s council.

The National Tertiary Education Union also opposes the plans.

“The government doesn’t understand that TAFEs and universities are not businesses; they are important civic institutions which should be governed in the public interest,” the union said in a statement.

The government expects to implement the changes by January 2013.