U Tas: what’s in it for the locals

“As the only university in the state, I recognise that there are strong feelings of community ownership of Uni Tasmania,” state education minister Roger Jaensch told the Legislative Council inquiry into the U Tas Act. He got that bit right

Mr Jaensch added that while the government will consider the inquiry’s outcomes “very carefully” any action should wait on the O’Kane Accord, which is covering “many of the topics” raised.

Which did not address one of issues the committee wanted him to address, what does the Tasmanian community get out of the way the university is run. “You would surely, as minister for education, want to make sure that organisation was functioning and functioning well, and, indeed, delivering for the state,” committee chair Rob Valentine (Independent-Hobart) remarked.

Detailed questions followed regarding the state government’s relationship with the university, including the controversial move to relocate most of it to the Hobart CBD.

Mr Valentine captured the essence of many of the questions, “there have been criticisms in submissions that point to the fact that no-one controls the university.”

It was not an entirely relaxed exchange for Mr Jaensch and if it indicates the committee’s thinking, the university.

The Commonwealth’s role in funding universities is one thing – that all politics is always local many more.