AUS Tertiary Update Vol3 No2
DEAR STEVE... FILL THAT CHAIR!
The government should move quickly to appoint the chair of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission, says AUS.
AUS president Neville Blampied has written to Associate Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey saying a lot hinges on the abilities of the chair, given the tight timeframe in which TEAC will work.
The appointee should oversee the advertising and short-listing of secretariat members. A suggested one-day a week for TEAC work is too little time, believes AUS, and the new chair should be given a minimum 2.5 days a week for this year at least.
Tertiary Update this week:
1. Intellectual property claims anger staff
2. Universities do it better!
3. Liz Gordon in the hot seat.
4. Science input at top level.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CLAIMS ANGER STAFF
Staff at both Lincoln and Otago Universities have reacted strongly to recent university attempts to claim ownership of intellectual property.
After a huge outcry, Otago University has backed off a proposal that it should own the copyright and most of the royalties on all publications produced by staff.
This would have introduced a whole new bureaucracy for assigning copyright to journals and publishers, say staff, and it had disturbing implications for academic freedom.
Despite the backdown, Otago still proposes to take the copyright on textbooks and on all teaching materials or class handouts. That means staff who shift to another university would technically be unable to take their courses with them.
It also means staff will be extremely reluctant to invest time in developing web-based courses of the kind the university says it is very keen on.
Anyone who thinks they might have a successful textbook in them is likely to avoid Otago completely in the future, given the university will now take a much higher proportion of royalties. Staff already dip deeply into their own pockets for research expenses such as unpaid conferences.
The proposals may have originated in Otago's Research and International division, which seems to be run by people long on industry experience but short on academic nous. Discussions are (we hope) ongoing.
Student loans administration may return to tertiary institutions because of continuing WINZ snarl-ups.
Social Services Minister Steve Maharey made the announcement as WINZ said it would hire 100 more staff to cope with the deluge of calls from panicking students. WINZ took over student loans administration on January 1 but widespread problems emerged this month as students began enrolling for the academic year.
Students complained of delays in loan approvals, incorrect information on loan contracts, and hassles in reaching WINZ staff. Mr Maharey said an inquiry into WINZ would look at whether the loan scheme should return to tertiary institutions.
“We will, in an open-minded fashion, have a look at both the question of staying with WINZ or restoring it into a campus when we do that evaluation.”
WINZ hired 20 extra staff last month to cope with unexpectedly high levels of queries over student loans. The student services centre logged 42,000 calls in one day last week.
“We are having difficulty dealing with the huge volume of calls we couldn’t possibly have anticipated,” said WINZ spokeswoman Patricia Reade. She said the calls had been spurred by media publicity, mailing out 22,000 letters with the wrong enrolment information, and recently announced interest rate changes.
For its system to work, WINZ needed institutions to enrol students on the basis of loan applications, said Ms Reade. It did not want institutions to wait for WINZ to approve loans before accepting students.
LIZ GORDON IN HOT SEAT
Former Canterbury (and Massey) branch AUS member Liz Gordon MP has been elected chair of the Education and Science select committee.
Following its first meeting on 24 February, Ms Gordon says she expects ‘vigorous’ debate on science and education issues from the ‘feisty’ committee which includes Helen Duncan, Mark Peck, Nanaia Mahuta, Maurice Williamson, Nick Smith, Brian Donnolly, and Donna Awatere-Huata.
SCIENCE INPUT AT TOP LEVEL
The proposed Science and Innovation Advisory Council will report directly to prime minister Helen Clark on key science and technology issues.
The council is part of Labour’s plan to give science a higher public profile and promote a long-term strategic direction for science and technology. A paper on its role will go to Cabinet in early March.
Later in the month Cabinet will appoint council members including representatives from government, industry, and research and academic communities. Nominations are now being called.
AUSTRALIAN STRIKES IMMINENT
At least seven Australian universities will be hit by strikes and bans this year unless rapid progress is made during talks over a 19 percent staff pay claim.
A recent Melbourne meeting of union representatives decided to step up the industrial campaign at universities where talks have been going on with little to show - Monash, RMIT, QUT, Southern Cross, New England, Wollongong, and South Australia.
GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR BRITISH E-UNIVERSITY
A British “e-university” which will deliver online courses is being set up with government and private funding. Half the estimated £200 million set-up costs will come from government, and the e-university could be enrolling its first students in two years’ time.
“We are all aware of the development in the United States and elsewhere of major virtual and corporate universities,” said Sir Brian Fender, head of England’s Higher Education Funding Council. “We would want the e-university to be clearly positioned overseas as the flag-carrier for the best of UK higher education in virtual delivery.”
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Fridays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website: