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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 3. No. 19

AUS WEB SITE
TOO MANY UNIVERSITIES?
Rob Crozier, AUS Executive Director, presented the Association’s submission on the Education (Limiting Number of Universities) Amendment Bill in Parliament yesterday. The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee also appeared. Both AUS and NZVCC support the general thrust of the Bill although the AUS submission raised some specific concerns related to the apparent conflict between the title of the Bill and its effect.
The AUS submission notes that the Bill will only restrict the number of public universities and that it will still be possible for NZQA to allow a private training establishment to be called a “university” or to allow a foreign university to set itself up in New Zealand. The Bill, in its present form, would not prevent an institution such as Northland Polytechnic merging with the Auckland University of Technology; nor would it prevent any private company applying to the Companies Office to establish XYZ University Ltd (along with such bastions of international reputation as the Minerva Private Correspondence University of Kaiapoi!).
AUS has urged the select committee to extend the provisions of the Bill so that none of the above possibilities can occur, and to include a sunset clause in the Bill so that it expires on 31 December 2001.
The AUS submission and Rob Crozier’s speaking notes are on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz

Also in Tertiary Update this week
1. Hot summer expected in Christchurch
2. “We want wide range of skills” – employers.
3. From the House

HOT SUMMER EXPECTED IN CHRISTCHURCH
Canterbury University staff have raised concerns over pressure arising from the proposed new summer school
Three summer courses were tested last January and Canterbury intends to extend the number to 10 courses this summer, raising concerns among staff about workloads and academic standards.
Misgivings about the maintenance of teaching quality and student standards arise from the requirement that six-point courses be taught in six weeks.
“Thirty six hours spread over 6 weeks is not equivalent to 36 hours spread over 12 weeks, let alone 24,” according to Dr Miles Fairburn of the University’s history department. “Otherwise, there would be no reason in principle why a six-point course would not be taught in six days at six hours per day."
Other concerns are that time for research, reflection, and discussion had to be provided for if educational quality was not to be sacrificed, and that student research and essay preparation cannot reasonably be expected to be compressed into such a short time.

“WE WANT WIDE RANGE OF SKILLS” – EMPLOYERS
A survey released by Victoria University this week shows that employers are looking for multi-skilled graduates, not just top academic achievers.
The survey found, for example, that strong verbal and interpersonal communications skills were rated ahead of problem-solving abilities and academic achievement.
Liz Medford, Head of Victoria’s Career Development and Employment Service, says that the key to employment is ‘employability’. “In addition to sound academic achievement, graduates must possess cross-functional skills.”
The top 10 attributes listed by employers were: 1) strong verbal and interpersonal communication; 2) problem solving; 3) sound academic achievement; 4) self-motivated/self-management/self-starter; 5) analytical and conceptual; 6) flexible and adaptable ‘can-do’ attitude; 7) team player; 8) strong written communication; 9) energy and enthusiasm; 10) creative/innovative.

FROM THE HOUSE

Employment Relations Bill Delayed
Parliament’s Business Committee has agreed that the date on which the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee must finally report the Employment Relations Bill should be extended to 1 August 2000.

Education Amendment Bill passed
The Education Amendment Act was passed this week with the House incorporating changes to the student association sections as recommended by the Select Committee. The Bill also dealt with bulk funding of schools and related matters.
Concerns raised by submissions that the absence of a definition of 'student association' could mean that organisations other than genuine representatives of students might qualify for mandatory collection of fees by Councils have been addressed. Councils now only have to collect fees for associations that are compulsory, and there can only be one compulsory association for any institution. Students, rather than some state authority, will determine who is a suitable representative for them.
The concern raised by AUS relating to student representation on Council has also been addressed. The select committee recommended that there must be at least one but not more than three student representatives on institutions' Councils.


WORLD WATCH

50,000 POUNDS FOR UK DEGREES?
A group of UK economists has proposed that universities should be allowed to charge students as much as 50,000 pounds in fees for three-year degrees by introducing a US-style system of financing higher education.
However, some vice-chancellors in the Russell group of 19 leading universities, which commissioned the economists' report, are privately distancing themselves from the recommendations.
The report calls for universities to be freed of state controls and allowed to set their own tuition fees, thus addressing their funding shortfalls.
The report offers a simple, free market solution to higher education's economic and social problems: charge the rich extra fees and use the money to fund scholarships for the poor.

RENT A MENTOR
The Victoria University of Technology in Melbourne is to borrow women from other universities in a novel attempt to redress a gender imbalance within its senior ranks. VUT currently employs 3 women and 30 men in its professorial ranks, and has a total of 218 female and 352 male academic staff.
Visiting women professors from other universities are to be offered one-year appointments so that they can provide a mentoring role for the career development of VUT’S female academic staff.
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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: rob.crozier@aus.ac.nz.

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