3 Tertiary Education Institutions and their Councils

Functions and duties of tertiary education institution councils

TEIs are governed by autonomous councils whose roles and functions are set out in the Education Act 1989. The Minister appoints four members to each ITP council, and either three or four members to each university and wānanga council, depending on its size, with the remainder appointed in accordance with each council’s constitution or statute.

Under legislation that came into effect in 2015, university and wānanga councils have between eight and 12 members and have until 30 June 2016 to reduce in size from the previous membership of between 12 and 20 members. ITPs, which were reconstituted in 2010, have councils of eight members. The Minister also appoints the Chair and Deputy Chair of ITP councils.

Appointments to councils are for a term of up to four years, and 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.

Effective councils provide clear strategic leadership and set and monitor the achievement of challenging targets. They have well-informed members who have a good understanding of stakeholders and the institution’s strengths and areas for improvement, and who challenge the management team about the institution’s performance. Effective councils also self-review or reflect on their performance on a regular basis.

The Act sets out requirements that guide the operation of all TEI councils and provides for a number of requirements specifically designed for ITP councils. These requirements are outlined in the following section.

Functions and roles of tertiary education institution councils

The Act provides that the functions of a TEI council are (s 180):

(a) to appoint a chief executive in accordance with the State Sector Act 1988 and to monitor and evaluate his or her performance:
(b) to prepare and submit a proposed plan if the institution is seeking funding under a funding mechanism that provides for funding via plans:
(c) if the institution has a plan,–
i) to ensure the institution is managed in accordance with that plan; and
ii) to determine policies to implement that plan:
(d) to determine, subject to the State Sector Act 1988, the policies of the TEI in relation to the management of its affairs:
(e) to undertake planning relating to the institution’s long-term strategic direction.

Councils may also make their own rules (“statutes”) that are consistent with the Act (s 194) and the State Sector Act 1988. These may encompass areas such as governance and discipline (including penalties), appointment of council members, election of council members by staff and students, courses of study and enrolment, and awards and prizes that may be granted.

Each council should establish a procedure for updating and reviewing its own statutes and the TEI’s other policies.

Duties of councilsTop

The Education Act 1989 also provides that it is the duty of each TEI council, in the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers (s 181):

(a) to strive to ensure that the institution attains the highest standards of excellence in education, training and research:
(b) to acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi:
(c) to encourage the greatest possible participation by the communities served by the institution so as to maximise the educational potential of all members of those communities with particular emphasis on those groups that are under-represented among the students of the institution:
(d) to ensure that the institution does not discriminate unfairly against any person:
(e) to ensure that the institution operates in a financially responsible manner that ensures the efficient use of resources and maintains the institution’s long-term viability:
(f) to ensure that proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest and well-being of students attending the institution are maintained.

Duties of council membersTop

In addition to the duties of each TEI council as a whole, as described in the section above, the Act sets out the duties of the individual council members. These duties include:

The Act also provides that council members may be removed by the Minister “for just cause”. (See the section “Dismissal of council members” below.)