Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 3. March 25, 1954
Know Your University—No. 2 — The University of New Zealand
Know Your University—No. 2
The University of New Zealand
Service of. The University of New Zealand
We may now consider the service which the University of New Zealand renders to the whole University system under the five heads, Academic, Finance, Scholarships. Special Schools and Research. We repeat here again something that needs always to be remembered, that of course the Colleges are the real centres of learning and the real universities in the ordinary sense, although the University, of New Zealand is the only body in the Dominion which has a charter from the Crown to confer degrees.
Academic.—The teaching work is done at the Colleges and the actual content of the subjects taught is in the main determined by the people responsible for teaching them as it should be and only the most general outline is set out in the University's Calendar. As far as I am aware, all teachers in the University can teach their subjects in the way they-think best and can do such research as they think most worthy without any restraint put upon them by the University or by its Statutes. The teacher is free to teach his proper discipline as he thinks best and to claim otherwise to-day is, I believe, only to beat a long-dead horse. In any case the remedy, if any were needed, is in the hands of the Academic Board. It was not ever thus because in the old days of the examining University, very precise prescriptions were set out for courses and examinations were carried out by examiners overseas: nowadays the teacher is also the examiner in his own subject.
In the enthusiasm for further devolution of responsibility to the Colleges, the University is now trying as fast as it can to get the Colleges to accept full responsibility for doing all the examining and keeping the students' records where they belong—close to the student body. Through the Academic Board, however, the University docs set a general pattern for the courses of study which must be followed for its degrees, maintains a certain uniformity of standards and tries to safeguard the interest of students (seven hundred or morel who move between Colleges during each year. Occasionally it has a full discussion on matters of major educational policy.
It is true that a reasonable uniformity of standards can now be obtained throughout the system by the very fact that College staffs have become large enough and experienced enough to see that a good standard of teaching is maintained at each centre. The necessity for any detailed central control has through this fact been reduced, though opinions may differ about the amount of uniformity that is still desirable.
The Senate is considering at present a suggestion by the Chancellor that a Curriculum Committee be Net up which will have powers derived from the Senate to approve courses submitted by the Colleges even if considerable diversity of courses is suggested. This would allow Colleges more autonomy in expressing their individual philosophy of education and the Curriculum Committee's duty would mainly be to see that high standards are maintained and that the interests of the students should be safeguarded when different courses are offered at different centres. A Professor from each Constituent College the four Academic Heads and two laymen with the Vice-Chancellor and the Director of Education is the suggested constitution.
Centralisation of Entrance and other examinations as at present has at least the merit that it provides the machinery for even standards of attainment and for giving similar individual consideration to students in special circumstances in all parts of the Dominion. We have heard of cases in other countries where laymen in University Councils have been able to interfere with examination results through their over-riding authority on governing bodies; this is not possible in Now Zealand since only academic men appointed by the University of Now Zealand us examiners, along with other College teachers, have any final power to pass or fall students.
The University seeks constantly to maintain standards which will have world-wide acceptance, while doing everything possible to see that all students get fair play. The University also provides opportunity for College people both academic and lay to get together to discuss the educational policy generally throughout the Dominion, an ail-over function which is necessary in a country which has a natural tendency to break up into separate provinces.
The funds for stalling and maintaining the University Colleges come, for the most part, as indicated earlier, from Government grants since fees from students represent in New Zealand on the average only 13.5 per cent, of the total income of the Colleges. It must be remembered also that about half of the actual lees are paid for through Government bursaries. It must not be thought, however, that New Zealand is unique in the high proportion of Government funds which go into university education although it is true that Now Zealand belongs to a small group of universities which have quite such heavy Government support. In Scotland the proportion of finances derived by the universities from fees is only about 14½ per cent., as against New Zealand's 13½ per cent. In Wales the fees represent 17 per cent. of University income, while in Western-Australia and Ceylon the proportion of income from Government grants is even greater than it is in New Zealand. Even in the United States of America the proportion of income derived from Government sources in the public State Universities is surprisingly high. In those universities only 23 per cent. of their income is from student fees, while State and Federal funds account for no less than 63 per cent, of their income. You will see, however, that students are heavily subsidised from Government funds and of course, the proportion varies with different courses. In Engineering, for instance, fees amount at present to only 4 per cent, of the income of the Mining School at Otago; 6½ per cent. of the income of the Engineering School at Auckland and 10 per cent, of the income of the Engineering School at Canterbury, while medical fees account for 15 per cent, of the income of the Medical School. In Agriculture only about 5½ per cent, of the costs are' met by fees.
|Per annum. About|
|Arts and Science averagerage||120|
The Community Pays
There is little need to stress' the obvious privilege the community extends to students in meeting the costs of such university training. The University Grants Committee needs, therefore, to be most careful and conscientious in its recommendations to the Government for funds and the page 8 Colleges economical and efficient in their application. Not only do high standards for admission need to be maintained, but I believe that in cases of repeated failure only very high fees should justify students in continuing University studies.
Some years ago, while discussing the grant necessary to finance six Colleges separately, the Government, through its then Prime Minister, stated that it would prefer to deal with one organisation rather than six separate organisations, so the University established the Grants Committee. Through the block grant system negotiated by the Grants Committee the Colleges retain their autonomy and through the quinquennial grant they are able to have continuity of policy and to budget ahead. Although the College Councils have this autonomy in the use to which they put their block grant, there is still a necessity in the national interest for the Colleges to get approval from the University when new departments or new Chairs are established, since it is clear that from a financial point of view it would be impossible for every College to proliferate in all directions without considering the fact that New Zealand with only two million people is not yet able to finance four separate universities complete with all departments. Of course, all universities do not need to have all departments in order to function as universities, nevertheless, the point I am making is that for any new development it is necessary, in the public interest, that there should be a Dominion body to advise on it so that the Government will not incur undue expense.
The Grants Committee has also been given recently the responsibility for finding out the building needs of the Colleges and presenting to the Government the case for the new buildings needed to carry out their functions adequately. As you know, the Colleges are lamentably behind most British and American universities in the standard and extent of university buildings In one New Zealand College, for instance, no permanent major university building has been erected since 1926 and in others the last so built were in 1939. During those years student numbers have more than doubled. No major permanent building is under construction at any University College at the present time, and the whole system is faced with the need at the moment to catch up with the serious deficiency in building from the past and to prepare for the future increase in student numbers. Although the sum of £5,700,000 is shown on the Government Estimates for 1953-54 for education buildings, there is no provision on them for any single major university building. As you are aware, apart from laboratory and lecture rooms, most Colleges do not have great halls even equivalent to those at good secondary schools and buildings for student amenities are for the most part of very poor quality. The Government has been made urgently aware of the position and it is our hope that a rational, long-range building plan for the University will be accepted shortly and finances provided for its development. At each University centre the buildings given first priority on this plan are: at Auckland and Canterbury, the Engineering Schools; at Victoria, the Science block; and at Otago, the Dental School. The work of the Grants Committee in collecting and collating Information about the financial needs for running costs and buildings for all six Colleges and presenting the case continuously and cogently to the Government, is one of the major activities of the University of New Zealand, but whereas in England the Grants Committee has a permanent staff of some 26 officers, in New Zealand we have to try to manage without a single full-time officer being able to devote all his time to the work. As in other matters, the University tries to manage the Grants Committee with a minimum of financial outlay, while at the same time striving to be effective.
Scholarships.—There is very little to add here about Scholarships beyond what has been said already. The position of Scholarships last year in Science, for instance, was very satisfactory in that, so far as I amaware, all First Class Honours graduates of outstanding ability were successful in getting an opportunity to go overseas for further study. Our policy is to assist graduates of high merit to go as far as possible with their studies in New Zealand and then afterwards to give the specially gifted the opportunity for study abroad under recognised world authorities. On a rough calculation, over fifty opportunities were afforded last year for New Zealand students from all faculties to study abroad with financial aid and even that figure would be increased if wo included all the special opportunities offered by shipping concessions, Fulbright Travel grants, grants from overseas universities and from various Foundations. In all these special and general cases the University of New Zealand plays a major role in the selection of those who will be given such special opportunities.
Special Schools.—There is a general function which the University is expected to perform in relation to Special Schools since the conception of the University is that it should be a complete university for New Zealand, made up of Constituent Colleges, each with some Special Schools, but no one Constituent College in itself being complete with all the Special Schools it is clear that in the present slate of our economic development and the size of our population it is impossible for every College to have all necessary Special Schools attached to them, so it is for the Senate to consider whether new Schools need to be started and if they are started, where they should be located. A second Medical School at Auckland and a possible Veterinary School somewhere in the Dominion are examples of new Special Schools at present under consideration.
Research.—In this field the University manures one research grant from the Government of £15,000 a year and another of $60,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York for Social Science Research; this latter fund to be spent at the rate of $12,000 a year. In addition, the University co-operates with D.S.I.R. in allocating funds for research to teachers in the Colleges who are working in fields in which the D.S.I.R. is interested. The sum spent in this way by D.S.I.R. last year was £27.000. Whether the University should have a permanent role of allocating special funds to research workers within the Colleges is, of course, debatable, but in carrying out this function as a development stage in the University, it is very valuable indeed. Every effort is being made to finance the Colleges so that their staffing and maintenance grants will be adequate to provide for research as an ordinary proper activity. It is [unclear: neccsary] at present to find special moneys for research, so the University in distributing these moneys is performing a valuable function in stimulating [unclear: research] and assisting in the training of research workers.
(To be continued)
Standand Press, Wellington