Lincoln University’s autonomy vital

by Kent Caddick

Selwyn MP Amy Adams says revelations the government has been secretly inviting bids for a ‘fire sale’ of Lincoln University, which would see it folded into a larger institution, are deeply concerning.

Claims that the government is looking into the possibility of integrating Lincoln University with another institution have been circulating since last week, but neither the government nor the university is responding to the claims.

“I’m calling on the government to guarantee it will not shut down the 140-year heritage of Lincoln as a proudly autonomous institution providing high-quality, specialist training in areas of critical importance to New Zealand’s future,” Ms Adams said.

“For 140 years, Lincoln University has been a specialist, land-based tertiary provider working in the disciplines of primary production, agricultural food and fibre, natural resources management, conservation and tourism.”

Ms Adams said the university has fought its way back from the challenges of the Canterbury earthquakes and is now operating in surplus, has stable student numbers and has had recent confirmation of its high academic quality.

“It will be the academic beating heart of the Lincoln Hub, which is an industry-wide collaboration focussed on solving the most critical issues for our economy — the interface between our natural resource economy and our environmental sustainability.

“No matter how the government might dress it up, if Lincoln was forced into a larger institution that practical, specialist focus would be lost and there is no justification for that.

“New Zealand’s land-based sector would be worse off as a result, and this would rip the guts out of the small Canterbury town of Lincoln.”

She said revelations the government has been designing a process that could be a death knell for Lincoln University’s autonomous state show just how little this government cares about the country’s land-based sector and small-town New Zealand.