Governance In The Tertiary Sector

Governance framework

Tertiary education institutions (TEIs) are governed by autonomous councils whose roles and functions are set out in the Education Act 1989.

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

University and wānanga councils have between 12 and 20 members. The councils of institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), which were reconstituted in 2010, consist of eight members. The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (the Minister) appoints four members to each TEI council and also appoints the Chair and Deputy Chair of ITP councils. Other members are appointed by each council in accordance with the council’s constitution or statute.

The terms of office for university and wānanga council members are normally four years. Appointments to ITP councils are for up to four years but 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.

Role of the Tertiary Education Commission in governance

The Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC’s) role is to monitor and evaluate the governance capability of TEI councils. It advises the Minister on governance matters, including Ministerial appointments and provides information and support for councils to enhance their governance capability.

The TEC also supplies information and advice to the Ministry of Education to support its policy work on the legislative framework for TEI councils. In 2013 the TEC provided information in relation to the proposed changes to university and wānanga governance.

Governance capabilityTop

Governance in the ITP sector

The 2010 governance reform of ITPs was intended to enhance the governance capability of the organisations, strengthen their leadership and improve institutional performance. To achieve this, the reform focused on increasing the skills bases of councils and reduced their size.

Evaluating governance changes

In 2011 the TEC initiated a research programme to evaluate the impact of the governance changes in the ITP sector. An initial review was undertaken to evaluate the implementation and transition of the reconstituted councils, as well as any immediate short-term outcomes. The evaluation found the governance changes had stimulated a positive shift in the effectiveness of councils (

Phase two of the research programme began in 2013 to assess the medium-term outcomes of the reforms and establish whether the council structural change is contributing to improved institutional performance. This phase includes documenting significant council-led initiatives, three of which are available on the TEC website.

Cross-council appointments

Cross-council appointments, where a member of one TEI council is also appointed a member of another council, are intended to promote collaboration and cooperation across the sector. When several Ministerial appointments to the councils of Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury fell due in 2013, the Minister used the opportunity to make the following three appointments on both councils:

Governance in the university and wānanga sectors

As part of its policy advisory role, the Ministry of Education advises the Minister about potential changes to the legislative framework for TEI governance. In 2013 this involved public consultation on reducing council size and other proposed changes to the governance arrangements of universities and wānanga. The results of the consultation were incorporated into proposed legislative changes included in the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) introduced into Parliament in early 2014.

Changes to council constitutions

From time to time, councils request amendments to their constitutions and these are put in place by agreement with the Minister. Changes may be needed to take account of legislation or, in the case of universities or wānanga, to amend the council’s representation. In 2013 the TEC provided advice to the Minister on requests for constitutional change from Victoria University of Wellington council, Massey University council and the University of Otago council.

Council appointment activity for 2013Top

The TEC is responsible for both advising the Minister on appointments and reappointments and managing the process. To help with the selection of candidates for Ministerial appointment, the TEC has a framework that provides criteria reflecting both the statutory functions of councils and the Minister’s priorities. Further information on the appointments process is available on the TEC website.

There are 112 Ministerial appointees across 28 councils. Each year, when the terms of office of Ministerial appointees expire, the Minister considers whether to reappoint or make new appointments. The Minister takes into account the performance of the institution, the skills and experience represented on the council and, in the case of reappointments, the length of term served.

In 2013, the Minister made 64 appointments, 36 were reappointments. Twenty-six new appointments were made and the Minister appointed two council-appointed members as Deputy Chair of their respective councils.

University council appointments

During 2013 nine new Ministerial appointments were made to university councils and six Ministerial appointees were reappointed.

The new Ministerial appointees were:

Institutes of technology and polytechnic council appointments

The Minister appointed eight new candidates to ITP councils in 2013, including Peter Winder as Chair of the Manukau Institute of Technology, and made two council-appointed members Deputy Chair of their respective institutions. In all, the Minister appointed four new Deputy Chairs as shown below.

Table 2: New Ministerial appointees to ITP councils in 2013
Council Name of new Ministerial appointee Position
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Julie Chadwick Member
Eastern Institute of Technology Michael Morgan Deputy Chair
(council-appointed member)
Eastern Institute of Technology Jacoby Poulian Member
Manukau Institute of Technology Peter Winder Chair
Open Polytechnic Murray Bain Deputy Chair
Open Polytechnic Helen Robinson Member
Unitec Institute of Technology Dianne Kidd Deputy Chair
(council-appointed member)
WelTec-Whitireia Dr Deborah Hume Member
Waikato Institute of Technology Steve Tucker Deputy Chair
Waikato Institute of Technology Pam Roa Member

The Minister reappointed 27 council members during 2013. Seven of the reappointments were as Chair or Deputy Chair. Reappointments included: Jenn Bestwick as Chair of the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology; Vern Dark as Chair of NorthTec; Sarah Brown as Chair of the Southern Institute of Technology; and Graeme McNally as Chair of Tai Poutini Polytechnic. Susie Johnstone was reappointed as Deputy Chair of Otago Polytechnic; Andy Rowe as Deputy Chair of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology; and Dr Neil Barns as Deputy Chair of the Waiariki Institute of Technology.

Wānanga council appointments

During 2013 nine Ministerial appointments were made to the councils of the three wānanga, including three reappointments. The new Ministerial appointees were:

Former Ministerial appointees

Fifteen Ministerial appointees stepped down in 2013, including the following four who resigned:

Eleven Ministerial appointees completed their terms of office and continued to serve until a new appointment was made:

Diversity in governance

The Government has committed to increasing diversity in leadership roles to realise the well documented and internationally accepted benefits of diversity in board and council appointments. To assess progress against the Government’s priorities for board participation, the TEC monitors the demographics of councils and reports annually to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on gender representation.

As at December 2013, 34 percent of all appointees to TEI councils were women. Further opportunities to contribute to meeting the State sector boards and committees target for women’s participation will be available over the coming years.

In relation to Māori on TEI councils, overall participation was 23 percent, with 73 out of 319 members being Māori, based on self-declared ethnicity information as shown in the table below.

Table 3: Female and Māori members of all TEI councils, both Ministerial and non-Ministerial appointees, as at December 2013
  Female Māori
University councils 28% (38) 4% (6)
Institutes of technology and polytechnics councils 38% (50) 18% (24)
Wānanga councils 38% (19) 86% (43)
Total 34% (107) 23% (73)