Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce has one last chance to reconsider his support for the voluntary student membership (VSM) bill, the Green Party said today.
"Mr Joyce has the power to stop this bill, or at least alter it to save tertiary students essential support services and quality of education," said Green Party tertiary education spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"Student's should be able to choose the way in which they are represented, and not have Act Party ideology forced on them.
"We saw in Auckland, Otago, and Wellington over the past two weeks large protests about the VSM bill. If Mr Joyce wants students to 'keep their heads down' he needs to stop this bill and stop eroding the tertiary education system."
Mr Hughes was responding to comments by Mr Joyce who said yesterday that students need to "keep their heads down" because they are "doing okay". Mr Joyce has also refused to accept NZUSA's compromise of automatic membership with an easier opt-out and full refund clause.
"We hope that the Minister will see the folly of letting this bill pass tonight and either ask National to oppose the bill or introduce amendments," Mr Hughes said.
"At the very least, the implementation of this bill needs to be pushed out until 2013 because associations have already made budgets and universities will also need time to adjust.
"It is simply impractical and irresponsible for VSM to go ahead on such a short timeframe.
"If the bill does pass the Green Party will work with the Maori Party, Mana, and Labour to initiate referenda on every campus, giving students the ability to choose how they are represented.
Mr Hughes will be signing a joint statement with other MPs at NZUSA's VSM protest today at Parliament at 1:30 PM.