michael website final

Dr Michael Johnston

Senior Fellow

Dr Michael Johnston is a Senior Fellow at the New Zealand Initiative. He leads the workstream on education.

Prior to his time at the Initiative, Dr Johnston held academic positions at Victoria University of Wellington from 2011-2022. From 2020 until 2022 he was the Associate Dean (Academic) in the University’s Faculty of Education.

Prior to his time at Victoria, Dr Johnston was the Senior Statistician at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, a position he held for 6 years. Before that, he was a lecturer in psychology at the University Melbourne and a Research Fellow at Latrobe University.

Dr Johnston holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Melbourne.

Phone: 044990790

Email: michael.johnston@nzinitiative.org.nz

Recent Work

2024 04 11 Neurodivergence Episode Website Copy

Podcast: Education for neurodivergent students

In this episode, Michael talks to Holly Gooch and Izzy Bremner, from The Hyphen Project, about what it might be like for people who are perhaps not considered the "norm" in our large school system. They talk about The Hyphen Project, which is a talent incubator for 16-19 year olds who are talented, neurodivergent and have not gotten on well with the mainstream education system. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Holly Gooch & Izzy Bremner
11 April, 2024

The problem with the vice-chancellor’s ‘free speech’ column

In a column that appeared in The Post on 23 February, Victoria University of Wellington Vice-Chancellor Nic Smith criticizes the coalition's commitment to have universities adopt a free speech policy. Smith notes that ACT Party leader david seymour ‘has previously criticised universities for declining to host certain speakers and argued the institutions should lose funding if they don't “protect free speech.”' The vice-chancellor then states that ‘one inference of all this is that anyone who wants to speak on campus should be able to do so.' But it wouldn't actually be valid to infer from Seymour's criticisms of recent deplatformings at New Zealand universities that he thinks that ‘anyone who wants to speak on campus should be able to do so.' You can, of course, think that Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas was wrong to prevent Don Brash from speaking to a student politics club in August 2018 (for example) and at the same time recognize that random people can't simply turn up at a university without an invitation and expect to get a hearing. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Kiwiblog
14 March, 2024
When the bloat began website thumbnail

Media Release: New research reveals the start of excessive non-academic staffing in New Zealand Universities

New research reveals the start of excessive non-academic staffing in New Zealand Universities Wellington (Wednesday, 28 February 2024) - This new research note, When the Bloat Began: Non-Academic Staffing at New Zealand Universities over the Long Run, 1961-1997, reveals the year in which non-academic employees started to outnumber academics at our universities. Building on the findings of our earlier research report, Blessing or Bloat? Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
28 February, 2024
Research Note When the bloat began with outline

When the Bloat Began: Non-Academic Staffing at New Zealand Universities over the long run, 1961-1997

This new research note, When the Bloat Began: Non-Academic Staffing at New Zealand Universities over the Long Run, 1961-1997, reveals the year in which non-academic employees started to outnumber academics at our universities. Building on the findings of our earlier research report, Blessing or Bloat? Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
28 February, 2024
Michael Profile Square profile final

Press Statement: The New Zealand Initiative celebrates Senior Fellow Michael Johnston's appointment

Wellington (Tuesday, 19 December 2023) – The New Zealand Initiative proudly announces the appointment of its Senior Fellow, Dr Michael Johnston, as the Chair of the Government’s newly established Ministerial Advisory Group to review the primary school English, maths and statistics curricula in New Zealand. Dr Johnston is a cognitive psychologist with an extensive background in the education sector. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
19 December, 2023
A year of new beginnings Episode Website v2

Podcast: 2023: A year of new beginnings

In our final episode of the year, Oliver and Michael discuss how things are sitting now in NZ with a new government, the challenges they're facing, some of the early decisions they've made and what the prospects are for the new year. To listen to our latest podcasts, please subscribe to The New Zealand Initiative podcast on iTunes, Spotify or The Podcast App. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Dr Michael Johnston
15 December, 2023

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates