Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 12 June 11, 1968
No time to meet
No time to meet
The universities' conference proposed by the Victoria University Council has been prevented by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors.
Originally advocated by Mr J. N. Laurenson, a member of council, the conference had received support from the Canterbury and Waikato universities.
But the Vice-Chancellors, meeting on 22 May, decided not to call such a conference because "they had too much on their plates" and because of the imminence of the National Development Conference.
In a memorandum prepared for council, Mr Laurenson pointed out that both the authorities and public were beginning to question the value being obtained from the increased expenditure on universities.
In their own interests, as well as in the performance of a national duty, he considered the universities should take the initiative and pinpoint any weaknesses of the present system and constructively tackle any problems.
In particular the conference could consider failure rates, average time taken to get degrees, supply of graduates to meet the country's needs, rationalisation of course, scope and nature of research, the relationship of universities and technical institutes, teaching standards in universities, and the efficiency with which the universities were using available plant and resources.
Accepting Mr Laurenson's proposals on behalf of Council, Victoria's Executive Committee asked the Committee of Vice-Chancellors to call such a conference of the universities and the University Grants Committee.
The conference was to be "entirely separate" from any submissions the universities might make to the National Development Conference.
Executive Committee had received letters of support from the Councils at Canterbury and Waikato. Other universities were still to reply.
The chairman of the University Grants' Committee wrote saying he was "sure the . . . committee would be willing to co-operate" but, pointed out that some of the suggested topics would need lengthy investigation.
In declining to call the conference the Vice-Chancellors said they were at present pre-occupied with their quinquennial submissions; there was a feeling that Government. through the National Development Conference. "would interest itself in many of the broader issue"; some of the items would indeed require lengthy investigation; and the University Grants Committee would not be able to provide secretarial assistance.
In addition, the Vice-Chancellors would be out of the country for most of August at the Commonwealth universities' conference.
Though the National Development Conference would call for submissions from individual universities, the Vice-Chancellors felt they should also make a joint submission involving them in further work.
At present they would not have the time needed for the proposed universities' conference.
Mr Laurenson, when informed of the decision, said there seemed to be an implication, that problems need not be discussed because the National Development Conference might deal with them. But, one purpose of the proposed conference would have been to show that the universities were putting their own house in order.
"The public must be shown," Mr Laurenson continued, "that they are getting good value for their money."