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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.30, 21 August 2000

A row has blown up at Canterbury University over a decision by the university executive to borrow up to $100m for capital expenditure. According to "The Press" newspaper, three Council members have refused to sign a confidentiality clause required by the finance company involved in the deal, and have been shut out of any further discussion of the issue. One told "The Press": "The council in total should be making decisions. I think it would set a dangerous precedent to exclude council members".
The capital funding deal is itself attracting criticism. Professor Butler says the money is essential to bring out of date buildings up to scratch and relieve pressure on space. He says it is a commercial arrangement that does not involve borrowing. But one council member who refused to sign the confidentiality clause has warned that the deal raises questions about the degree of financial risk the university would be exposed to. And the AUS executive director, Rob Crozier believes the deal will require Canterbury to poach students from other institutions to service the debt.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Competition to end?
2. A green light for one merger..
3. …But caution on another
4. Insights from Israel
5. What wine is this?

"Tertiary Update" has been advised that the Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, Steve Maharey intends to meet the UCOL principal, and the Vice-Chancellor of Massey to discuss the head-on competition in nursing (see "Tertiary Update", Vol. 3 No. 29)

Steve Maharey has announced that the proposed merger between Wairarapa Community Polytechnic and UCOL in Palmerston North will go ahead from the beginning of next year. Announcing the government's decision, Mr Maharey said the educational and strategic benefits of the merger were "clear and persuasive". He said the merger would ensure the future of tertiary education in the Wairarapa, and said local identity would be preserved through a local Board of Studies and a Community Advisory Group. ASTE reports that staff at Wairarapa are being given “Hobson’s choice” in relation to their employment contracts. Their choice is to take redundancy or move to inferior conditions. UCOL has not negotiated a new collective employment contract since 1993

The Education Minister has told Massey University and Auckland College of Education (ACE) that he is not convinced that the education benefits of their proposed merger are persuasive enough to justify the government allowing it to go ahead. Trevor Mallard has stressed that no final decision has been made, but says the two institutions still have to convince him of their case. He also says he believes there is a risk the merger could significantly disadvantage the remaining Colleges of Education by altering their strategic operating environment.
The two institutions say they will make a new submission to the Minister restating their case for a full merger. In a joint statement they say ACE students strongly support the plan because it will given them university-level qualifications, a greater opportunity for specialisation and access to postgraduate programmes, and a broader base for teacher education research.
Meanwhile, staff at Auckland College of Education -- who support the plan -- say they are fed up with being "stuffed around" by successive governments over the merger proposal, which was first lodged in October 1998. The President of the ACE branch of ASTE, Joce Jesson questions whether Mr Mallard considers that teacher education belongs in a university. "Mr Mallard is reportedly concerned that the merger would disadvantage the stand-alone colleges of education," she says, "but the fact is they are also offering university-level programmes and should probably be accorded university status in their own right".

The University of Auckland hopes that the visit this month of two members of Israel's Council for Higher Education will have spin-offs for New Zealand's troubled tertiary education sector. Auckland University Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood says the university invited Professor Nehemia Levtzion and Mr Shlomo Herskovic to come here to let local policy-makers and the academic community hear how Israel has restructured its high education system to achieve excellence in research and teaching, and broader participation in education. He says that over the past decade, Israel has faced the rigours of a competitive, demand-driven tertiary education, just as New Zealand has. The Council for Higher Education was set up in response to this to stabilise the situation and ensure each institution was given a mission, and stuck to it.

A five-level university certified wine education course begins in New Zealand later this year. The course is run by California's International Wine Academy and offered through the University of Western Sydney in conjunction with Vinotica Fine Wines and Food. The course includes information on grape growing and winemaking as it is practised in the main wine producing regions of the world. Each level includes mandatory "sensory evaluation" – wine tasting to you and me! The course begins in Auckland in November at Auckland University of Technology.


A leading Fijian academic is appealing to the international community to be on the alert after what he calls "an incitement to violence" by extremists in Fiji. Professor Vijay Naidu of the University of the South Pacific cites a letter to the "Fiji Times" newspaper which says that extremists have made up a large list of pro-democracy supporters -- among them academics -- who will be "eliminated" if they continue to openly oppose the interim government and the cause it stands for. The letter says the "emergency of fundamentalism and fanaticism in Fiji is unprecedented" and that "what is being talked about has sent chills down the spines of some listeners". Professor Naidu is asking that colleagues alert their local and international contacts as well as foreign embassies in Suva about the threat, which he says should not be taken lightly.

A sabbatical coming up, but nowhere to stay? Try a new website -- The site lists apartments and home-exchange opportunities for 16 countries, including Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, Romania and South Africa. What's more, the service is free!

AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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