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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.5

AUS website
The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed the introduction of the Employment Relations Bill, expressing the hope that the new legislation might provide an environment in which university salaries can become internationally competitive.
AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier recalled today that it was Helen Clark as Minister of Labour who removed university academic staff from the jurisdiction of the Higher Salaries Commission in 1987, ironically so that academic staff could bargain for better salaries.
“Since that time, the benchmark senior lecturer salary has declined from parity with a backbench Member of Parliament to about 85% of an MP’s salary today (less, if MPs’ allowances are taken into account,” he said.
Neville Blampied, AUS President, said it was vital that the Government, as principal funder of universities, recognised that the intellectual capital of the staff is of paramount importance to a knowledge society.
Neville Blampied said the university world faced a staff recruitment crisis in the next decade as ‘baby boomers’ retired, and New Zealand would be left behind if it could not compete for staff.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. University Union History Launched
2. Cinderella Science is Invited to the Ball
3. Funding on Select Committee’s Agenda

The Association of University Staff launched its published history this week.
The publication, Professionals and Unionists, covers the 75-year history of the Association for the period 1923–1998 and was written by Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tarling of Auckland University, a former National President of the Association.
AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier said “the launch comes during a week in which organisations such as ourselves will again have to regroup for the next phase of our existence”.
Copies of the history are available from AUS for $15.

A new council of seven people is being set up to provide top-level strategic advice to the Government on science and innovation.
Establishing the Science and Innovation Advisory Council (SIAC) was proposed in Labour's pre-election policy and it will report directly to Prime Minister Helen Clark.
“Scientists and innovators are excited about this,” said Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson. “For years they were sidelined by a disinterested National Government. They watched unhappily as public and private sector support for research languished and many of New Zealand's finest minds drifted overseas. Their ideas for tackling these problems have gone untapped. This Government is inviting Cinderella to the ball.”
Mr Hodgson expects the SIAC members to come from diverse areas including the academic and science communities, business, the Maori community and the general public. “The main qualifications are vision, energy and ideas for gearing up science and innovation in New Zealand.”
The Government is now seeking nominations for members of the Council. Initial appointments will be for two years. Nominations close on April 5th. Nomination forms are available on the Internet at or from SIAC, PO Box 2401, Wellington.

AUS remains concerned that the terms of reference for the new Tertiary Education Advisory Commission preclude it from making recommendations on the overall quantum of funding.
Liz Gordon, chair of the Education and Science Select Committee has announced that the select committee will conduct a review of the resourcing of the sector and will take public submissions.
“Terms of reference are still being developed for the review, but it is likely that the Committee will choose to keep the parameters fairly broad. Obvious areas of interest for the Committee are the accumulating loan debt and its fiscal and social implications, questions about the administration of student loans and allowances by WINZ and the setting of fee levels by institutions.”
“However, I also have an interest in how we can foster a funding system for tertiary institutions which means, for example, that small polytechnics won't have to be bailed out by government and that large universities will not be forced to keep expanding in order to remain financially healthy.”


The World Bank has moved its priority focus from compulsory and pre-compulsory education to higher education for developing countries. A report released recently, “Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise”, notes that under-investment in higher education will leave developing countries behind in economic terms. The report can be read at

Eight universities in Australia have now reached agreement with the National Tertiary Education Union on salary increases. The settlements range from12.5-15% over the next three years and make New Zealand salaries start to look very pale by comparison.

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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