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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 3 No 17

AUS website

The positive spin on the Budget is beginning to sound very hollow for university staff in the wake of news this week of a financial crisis at Victoria University.
“Financial crises at several universities mean that ‘fairness, security and opportunity’ are fast disappearing for many people working in our universities,” said AUS National President Neville Blampied.
“University staff are not to blame for these crises, yet they bear the painful costs in severe stress, constant restructurings, large-scale redundancies, and destruction of career opportunities,” he said.
The Victoria University branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS) responded to the news with a call for reasoned and constructive analyses of the available options.
AUS spokesperson, Guy Reynolds, said staff appreciated the more consultative approach being adopted by the Acting Vice-Chancellor after last year's difficulties. “At least this year we are being presented with a rationale and process that allows for effective staff input into the decision making,” said Mr Reynolds.
The AUS is pleased the University proposes to investigate possible reductions in its overhead and management costs and recognises the need to focus on core teaching and research activities.
“If the ideas and expertise of the University community are successfully utilised, new revenue-earning initiatives should be able to be implemented,” Mr Reynolds said.
While there were internal initiatives that Victoria must undertake, he said that the Government needs to act faster and with greater commitment if the university sector is to survive at all.
In recognition that the problems cannot be solved just by local initiatives, the AUS is also seeking a joint meeting between staff, students, management, the University Council and the responsible Government Ministers.
“While TEAC does its work, the Government has a responsibility to maintain the status quo in the university sector, otherwise the integrity of the TEAC process is called seriously into question,” said Neville Blampied. “Returning the $62.5 million arbitrarily removed from the sector in 1998 in response to the Asian financial crisis would be a good start!”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Science and Innovation Advisory Council Launched
2. AUS Submission on TEAC Terms of Reference
3. AUT Joins New Global Alliance
4. National Intellectual Property Policy to be developed

Nine New Zealanders with diverse backgrounds in industry and science have
been named as members of a new Science and Innovation Advisory Council
(SIAC) launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark this week.
Chaired by Rick Christie, chief executive of investment company Rangatira Ltd., the other Council members are: John Blackham (XSOL Ltd), former Christchurch Mayor Vicki Buck, Kate Frykberg (The Web), Donna Hiser (Innovus), Dr Michael Matthews (Tatua Dairy Co-op Ltd), Sir Angus Tait (Tait Electronics), Stephen Tindall (Tindall Foundation and founder of The Warehouse), and leading Maori scientist Dr Michael Walker of University of Auckland.
The purpose of the Science and Innovation Advisory Council includes increasing public recognition of scientists, science and innovation; promoting a long-term, strategic direction for research, science and technology; building private-sector commitment to the sector; and enabling co-ordination of Government and community science activities.
For more information on the SIAC, visit the Council's website at

The AUS submission on the terms of reference for the Tertiary Advisory Commission completed this week focused on the strategic direction of the tertiary sector.
It calls for, among other things, an independent inquiry into university salaries and conditions in New Zealand (similar to the recent Bett Inquiry in the United Kingdom).
We have emphasised the need for a legislatively-differentiated sector and stressed the public and unique role of universities. Our submission also suggests that TEAC consider the adaptation of successful and appropriate aspects of overseas models, such as California, Finland, Ireland and Israel. The submission is available on the AUS website

The Auckland University of Technology is to join forces with eight other universities and online education company Nexted to create a rival to Universitas 21, according to the Independent on Wednesday.
The new Global University Alliance (GUA) has partners that include the University of South Australia, RMIT, as well as the Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan and aims to have courses available from the end of September 2000. GUA and Nexted are both based in Hong Kong.
Recently we reported that Universitas 21 (of which Auckland University is a member) is to join forces with Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp and target what is seen to be a lucrative market for delivery of university education into China.

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) has responded positively to an AUS request that a national policy position on intellectual property be developed. NZVCC will collate the current 8 university policies and will meet AUS representatives in September to discuss the formation of a working party to develop the national position.


NTEU National Assistant Secretary Ted Murphy welcomed the defeat of legislation in the Senate which would have made the union’s ability to pursue common claims across the industry illegal.
He expressed concern, however, that the proposals may be revived later in the year in a revised form.
Ted Murphy called on the opposition parties to accept the principle that multi-employer or industry-level bargaining was appropriate and, in fact, protected by ILO Conventions to which Australia was a signatory.

A report on borderless education suggests universities should press the Government to widen tax deductions for employee education to increase their privately-sourced income.
The report rejects new providers such as the virtual universities and profit-only colleges that have developed in the US which threaten Australia's traditional institutions.
The researchers say their findings are critical to Australian universities because government funding of higher education has fallen and university revenue is increasingly dependent on full-fee-paying students who might be tempted to seek education online.
But new providers are “likely to heighten competition for the higher education of working adults and continuing professional education”. Industry has relatively low investment in education and prefers to recruit people with skills it wants rather than to train, the report says.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee has invited the researchers to present their findings to next month’s meeting.
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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