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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.3

AUS website
WINZ staff are exceeding their authority and breaching ethical standards by making comments to students about the suitability of courses, according to the Canterbury Branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS).
AUS Canterbury Branch President, Dr Maureen Montgomery, has cited one example where a student was questioned why he wanted to enrol in American Studies and told that an alternative course would offer better career prospects.
“Similarly, other students, particularly those enrolling in arts courses, have met with derisory comments about the value of those degrees and their suitability for post-university employment. Some have been further questioned about how they expect to be able to repay a student loan with such a degree,” said Dr Montgomery.
“WINZ staff are neither qualified nor employed to make judgements about the value of any university degree”, said Dr Montgomery. “In light of their own performance in the current student loan fiasco they would be more usefully employed in concentrating on their own levels of competence before turning their attention elsewhere”.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Easter eggs for all but Auckland staff
2. Backpay awarded to VUW student library assistants
3. Grecian urns satisfy Classics students’ yearns
4. Can’t perform like a BMW on a Lada budget

Auckland University has so far failed to agree to give staff an additional day’s leave at Easter in recognition of the unique circumstance whereby Anzac Day and Easter Tuesday coincide. All of the other ‘traditional’ universities have increased the Easter break by one day for those entitled to university holidays. Victoria has decided to celebrate the additional day’s holiday on Maundy Thursday – presumably in the hope that the Queen, or her New Zealand representative, will throw some Maundy money in its direction!

Students working as part-time library assistants at Victoria have been awarded backpay to 1 January 1996 after a ground-breaking Employment Tribunal decision which determined that they should have been employed under the terms and conditions of the general staff collective employment contract from 1 August 1995.
Agreement that student library assistants should be covered by a separate collective employment contract has been reached. And in another AUS success, the negotiations for the 2000 contract have just concluded with staff being awarded a 4.7% increase.

Victoria University Classics students will have a first-hand opportunity to explore the archaeological wonders of early Greek and Minoan civilisations with a new study centre currently being established on Crete.
The facility at Kolumbari will be able to house up to 16 students and two staff members. They will live there for around six weeks over the New Zealand summer, developing their knowledge of archaeology and sharpening their research skills.
Head of Classics at Victoria University, Professor Chris Dearden, says the idea emerged from a recent review of the department and was also raised at an alumni function for graduates of Greek nationality.
The University has provided funding to seed the initiative and some money has been made available through a bequest.
“We are also launching an appeal for scholarships to support students with hardships,” says Professor Dearden.

On the eve of classes starting for the new millennium, Auckland University Students’ Association President, Kane Stanford, has called on university and government officials to ensure that future roll increases at Auckland University can be accommodated.
“At a time when students are being charged thousands of dollars a year in fees, I find it absolutely immoral that tomorrow some of them will not be able to find a seat in their lecture due to overcrowding,” said Mr Stanford.
Mr Stanford believes that inadequate staffing and lack of capital development contribute to the problem.
“Auckland University has 90% of the number of equivalent full time students as the University of Sydney, but only 65% of the budget and staff - clearly you can’t expect the university to perform like a BMW when you only have the budget for a Lada,” said Mr Stanford.

A group of Australian Vice-Chancellors continues to push for deregulation of the university sector while we wait to see how Vice-Chancellors in New Zealand will cope with having to co-operate with each other. The push comes in the wake of the dumping of the Minster of Education, Dr David Kemp’s, grand scheme to promote greater market competition last October.

AUT is claiming a 30% pay rise to catch up with average earnings in Britain over the past two decades. This is part of a strategy to catch up with the overall increase in average earnings (40%) by 2003-4. AUT is also seeking gender equity in academic salaries and drastic cuts in the high levels of casualisation of academic staff.

The Australian Government’s new Institutional Grants Scheme means that research funding previously allocated to Australia’s public universities will be available to any institution which can produce an acceptable research and research training plan, thereby increasing competition between public and private providers.

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: . Direct enquiries to Rob Crozier, AUS executive director. Email:

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