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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 19. August 31, 1950

University Reform

page 2

University Reform

It is significant that, at the same time as Sir Thomas Hunter is to be awarded by the Senate an Honorary Doctorate, the question of a thorough overhaul and assessment of the University system in New Zealand should have been raised in the same body, this time by a Canterbury member.

Hunter, as anyone who has read even a little of University history in New Zealand will know, was one of the driving forces behind the reform movement in University education some 25 to 30 years ago. With Victoria staff always prominently in the spearhead of the attack, and Hunter well out in the front, the Reformists moved in on the complacency of the existing system with all the gentleness of a bulldozer.

From this distance, when Hunter has become respectable enough to become deservedly knighted, and receive his doctorate from NZU, the epithets hurled at him then seem astounding: he was a personification of all that was (and is) regarded as devilish in the Victoria set-up. He was—in hushed whispers—a "radical." His opponents on the Senate either opposed him for the sake of opposing, or did so with much more vigour than understanding. Inevitably, he became Vice-Chancellor and his ideas and those of the Reform movement started to take effect. He lost some of his reputation, most of which was quite imaginary anyway, for hotheadedness.

And now, at the latest Senate meeting, three affairs come interestingly together. The first is the mention of Hunter's honorary doctorate. Second is the mention of a request for increased representation on the Senate for the Academic Board—with Hunter again behind this justified move to allow the staffs more power. Third is the demand for another overhaul.

It should be obvious to anyone who has crowded into the back row of C3 for a lecture, or watched the mass of teeming students sweep through the main hall at 5 o'clock, that all is far from well with the present University set-up. Too little time to spare, too many students for too few lecturers, too few real facilities for study and research—these are truisms which the administrators must be only too well aware of.

But with Hunter almost about to drop the reins, this would indeed be a fitting time for another long-term overhaul of future development plans for NZU. Such a move might be an even more fitting tribute to him than another degree.