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NZ gains leading voice in Commonwealth Students' Association
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NZ gains leading voice in Commonwealth Students' Association

NZ students gain leading voice in Commonwealth Students’ Association

New Zealand became one of nine countries represented on the Commonwealth Students’ Association steering committee, with the addition of Pete Hodkinson to the committee when it met in London this month.

Pete Hodkinson, 2012-2013 President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), joins Jamal Talagi of Niue as one of two representatives from the Pacific region.

“The Commonwealth Students Association (CSA) which was officially recognised by Education Ministers last year, is supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat and is in a building phase,” says Hodkinson.

“Education has a central role in the Commonwealth in nation building, developing economies, citizenship, personal aspiration and meeting the needs of the very high number of people aged under 25.

“The driving idea behind the CSA is that students are partners and primary stakeholders in the tertiary education system, and as such they should be involved in the decision making processes needed to improve fundamental aspects of education such as quality, standards, and access. It is clearly accepted that articulating those issues would be impossible without an organised students’ vehicle like the CSA.

“In many ways the CSA has the same role at an international level as the NZ Union of Students’ Associations does on a national level.

“We share a common mission in seeking to raise the profile of student bodies so that they’re more visible and so that students’ voices are amplified and not left out of significant policy and decision making.

“Secondly we’re both basing our work on being credible participants in policy, advocacy and development for students, at the same time as striving to be sustainable organisations,” says Hodkinson.

“The types of action this translates into includes conducting research on the state of student concerns in tandem with mobilising resources and extending the potential for collaboration. In the case of the CSA my work will be informed by the challenges being met in New Zealand and will allow me to bring a distinct voice to the table.

“The CSA is seeking to build a strong regional presence in 2013 and by being a part of that wider engagement I am bound to learn about new opportunities, sources of knowledge and practical lessons to apply in New Zealand”.

Closer to home Pete Hodkinson will be visiting campuses around New Zealand during Orientation Weeks starting from the last week of February. He is embarking on a road trip being billed as the BIG QUESTIONS TOUR, with support from the Commission for Financial Literacy and the Constitutional Advisory Panel (details to follow).

“Travelling around campuses lets me tap into the student voice directly, and again fits with my role as a conduit for students’ concerns wherever they happen to be studying in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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