Auckland University of Technology’s new vice-chancellor — the country’s first Pasifika educator in the top role at a university — is determined to break down inequalities among students in the sector.
Professor Damon Salesa, formerly at the University of Auckland, started in his new role this week.
He told RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme that improving the experience of student groups that had not previously been well-catered for would be AUT’s top priority under his leadership.
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“The reason I want to be a vice-chancellor is because I don’t think universities have made this the priority it needs to be,” he said.
“We will measure ourselves by how our Māori students do, how our working class students do, how our Pacific students do, and how they feel, because actually a positive outcome isn’t just a qualification.”
He said the covid-19 pandemic illuminated inequities in education, with online learning hindering many students’ ability to participate.
“That mode of teaching had an inequality in it … the digital divide is a real thing.”
Professor Salesa said universities needed to be held to a higher standard of fair outcomes for all students.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.