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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.7

AUS website
While the Association of University Staff (AUS) shares concerns expressed yesterday by farming, technology and research leaders that, without urgent action, New Zealand is at risk of continuing its loss of human capital, we disagree that the solution lies in reducing the number of universities.
The AUS was responding to the President of the Association of Crown Research Institutes, Dr Andrew West’s call for an amalgamation of New Zealand's eight universities into three world-class institutions. This was seen as the crucial single action needed to underpin the creation of knowledge-based industries.
AUS National President, Neville Blampied said building a ‘world-class’ university system by merging institutions was a managerialist dream, which could just as easily turn into a nightmare.
“New Zealand universities have always been internationally focussed, and committed to achieving international standards in research, scholarship and teaching. Every university has developed areas of particular strength. Developing existing centres of excellence by enhanced funding would deliver better outcomes for New Zealand than any forced amalgamation process,” he said.
Neville Blampied added that initiatives such as the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission mean that Government policy is moving in a positive direction, and AUS believes that much can be done to enhance the performance of our university system without the disruption of mergers.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. TEAC/Ministry Protocols To Be Developed
2. We Told You So
3. Massey – Jargon 1 Staff 0
4. And Now it’s Victoria’s Humanities Faculty
5. …Meanwhile, in Auckland

Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, Steve Maharey, has advised AUS that future interaction between the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission and the Ministry of Education will be guided by a series of protocols. AUS welcomes the reassurance implicit in this announcement because it reduces the possibility of any future conflict of interest between TEAC and the Ministry.
We have also been advised that the Ministry’s role in relation to TEAC submissions has been limited to compiling lists of nominees and their nominators, identifying areas of suggested changes to the terms of reference, and drafting the final terms of reference and the accompanying Cabinet paper.
The name of the Chair of TEAC and the final terms of reference will be announced on Monday 3 April.

The following stories are all illustrative of the problems that AUS predicted would be the result of the previous government’s approach to funding.
While AUS appreciates the changes made to the student loan scheme earlier this year, we have written to the Associate Minister of Tertiary Education advising him that it will be an unfortunate outcome if more students are assisted to come to tertiary institutions but find them with demoralised staff, antiquated equipment and libraries that are unable to purchase books or periodicals.
We have also requested him to advise the sector of his intentions regarding the former Government’s 1999 decisions to institute the Universal Tertiary Tuition Allowance and to severely curtail postgraduate tuition funding.
AUS sees the realignment of funding as being a priority for TEAC when established.

Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha, has announced that he is seeking approximately $7 million of savings in Palmerston North in response to falling rolls. Professor McWha describes the process as “repositioning the University’s academic portfolio” and proposes “…to identify non-viable activities with the intention of realigning resources to areas that are both economically sustainable and academically and strategically important, for various reasons, including research.”
Pro Vice-Chancellors and other executive staff have until 1 May to identify potential areas where savings can be made, including academic programmes that could be modified or dropped. Final decisions are to be made in August.
“Members are voicing their disgust that this ‘repositioning’ will erode the academic integrity of Massey University's programmes,” said AUS Branch President, Associate Professor Tony Lewis.
“We deplore being asked to point the finger at colleagues and label them as ‘financially non-viable’, and we do not wish to participate in such a process.”
Professor Lewis was critical that the timeframe leaves little room for long-term planning.

Staff of Victoria University’s Humanities faculty have a month to make submissions on a Cost Reduction Proposal seeking more than $2 million in savings.
Dean of Arts, Professor David Mackay, issued the proposal early this week, and targeted Social Work, Russian and Indonesian/Malay as where he thinks redundancies should occur.
The savings are likely to be made through the loss of about 30 positions (many of which will come about through staff taking voluntary severance).
Concern about the probable redundancies was expressed by Victoria University Students' Association President, Chris Hipkins.
He said there were other areas the University could find savings and mentioned the large sums spent on marketing and advertising. “Surely the best advertisement for the University is 13,000 happy staff and students?”

Staff of Auckland’s chemistry department, where about 20 people were made redundant last year, are questioning that decision after the announcement that the science faculty has just posted a profit of $5.1 million.
Now crammed into three floors of their building, remaining staff are covering the full range of chemistry courses with fewer people, while at the same time carrying out considerably more administrative work.


More than one billion pounds was added to education in the recent UK Budget. While the focus was on schools, the Association of University Teachers is confident that there will be an increase in higher education expenditure later in the year.
David Triesman, AUT general secretary, said “The chancellor has clearly indicated he is willing to open the public purse following years of fiscal restraint. All eyes in higher education will be set on the spending review in July.” AUS would, of course, be pleased if New Zealand's universities were funded at the current UK rate.

Melbourne University is under attack from the National Tertiary Education Union for the manner in which shares were allocated in its commercial offshoot, Melbourne IT. The company listed on the stock exchange at $A2.20 in December and shares are currently trading at $A14.
Senior academics and some members of the University Council were allocated thousands of shares while many staff who applied for shares did not receive any. Former vice-chancellor, David Pennington, is reported to have been allocated 8,000 shares and has already made a paper profit of $A110,000.

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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