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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.3 No.36

AUS WEB SITEIn our lead story this week…..
Massey University staff have ratified a one-year collective employment agreement which includes a 1.7% wage increase and an assistance package for staff made redundant this year as a result of ‘repositioning’ at the university. The Employment Assistance Fund -- jointly administered by the unions and Massey management and totalling $250,000 -- is being set up, and redundant staff will be able to apply to it for grants of up to $10,000. The newly-elected AUS Massey Branch President, Dr Karen Rhodes says other significant gains include a management agreement to withdraw proposed clawbacks in retirement clauses, and a workloads clause that requires that workload allocations should be "transparent, equitable and flexible, and promote the wellbeing and safety of staff." Dr Rhodes says, however, that the vote on ratification showed relatively strong resistance to the agreement, with 16% of AUS members voting to continue industrial action. "This is the highest level of dissent against a settlement with management that we have ever encountered. Staff are still angry about the management style at Massey University, and staff will work toward the collegial model of university governance", she says.
Other conditions include four weeks' annual leave for general, as well as academic staff; the replacement of a six-week gratuity payment for parental leave by six weeks' paid leave; provision for inclusion of new academic promotion clauses by ratification at a later date; union consultation in the development of staff workload policy; and provisions to include union involvement in restructuring and review processes at an earlier date.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1 New General Staff Vice-President
2 Government makes first council appointments
3. The joint approach to cutting power bills
4. Tertiary donation tax write-offs on the cards
5. Competition v. co-operation
6. Career in maths doesn't add up
7. Questioning the business model.

Phil Etheridge of Massey University’s Institute of Fundamental Sciences has been elected AUS General Staff Vice-President for 2001. Phil is a computer systems administrator and consultant and will represent the views of general staff on the AUS Council. This year, he has been the Massey branch representative on AUS Council.

The government has made its first appointments to university councils since it was elected. John Jackman, a senior policy analyst with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and formerly Deputy Chief Executive of Ag Research, has been apppointed to the University of Waikato Council. Prudence Taylor, the principal of Christchurch Girls' High School, joins the council at Lincoln. The Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary), Steve Maharey says the government wants its appointees to strengthen the ability of the tertiary councils to respond to local community needs and ensure the quality of their programmes. He says the appointment process has been changed to reflect this, with all appointees needing the agreement of Cabinet as well as assessment by the Ministry of Education. AUS has put forward nominations for other councils.
Meanwhile the Minister is expected to announce proposals this weekend for legislation to improve governance and accountability at tertiary institutions. Details in your next "Tertiary Update".

Universities and polytechnics have cut their electricity bills by more than $1.2m. a year as a result of their decision to join forces to negotiate a special contract price with Meridian Energy. Thirty-four institutions are part of the Tertiary Education and Research Electricity Buying Group which negotiated the deal. Peter Rankin, who chairs the group, says the savings represent an average cut in electricity bills for individual institutions of 20% -- money that can be ploughed back in to education. Dr Rankin -- who is from Victoria University -- says his university cut its power bill by a "staggering" 38%. Who says co-operation doesn’t work?

Corporate donations and gifts to universities and other tertiary institutions may become tax deductible if a proposal being considered by the Government goes ahead. The idea was raised at this week's forum between government and business, and the Minister, Steve Maharey welcomes it, saying it would promote strong partnerships with business interests. He points out that such a scheme works successfully in countries like the United States, boosting university funds by millions of dollars. He says the idea will be considered as part of the current review of taxation.

"Tertiary Update" notes that there is still very little evidence that the chief executives and managers of our tertiary institutions have heard the government's message about the need for co-operation. The latest (and slightly curious) move is the decision by the Unitech Council in Auckland to discontinue membership of the Association of Polytechnics of New Zealand from next year. It appears that Unitech believes it no longer has anything in common with the polytechnics of this country and will presumably continue its push to become a "University of Technology."


A new report shows maths in Australia is in serious crisis. A study released by the Federation of Australian Science and Technology Societies (FASTS) highlights a brain drain of the country's best maths researchers and bright young graduates, a shortage of teaching staff, and falling enrolments. The author of the report, Jan Thomas of the Australian Mathematics Association, says maths must become more visible, and the community made more aware of the way it underpins technology and commerce. Among the proposals for tackling the crisis are an organisation, along the lines of the Australian Institute of Sport, to develop critical research mass and enable high-level teaching of the nation's small number of honours students. The report can be found at

Participants at a conference in the United States on governance have sounded a note of alarm over the continuing push to use the corporation as a model for running academic institutions.
The President of Francis Marion University in South Carolina, Luther Carter cautioned that many of the divisions between faculty and deans grow out of "the compulsion to run an academic institution like a corporation." His views were echoed by Larry Gerber of Auburn University who referred to the "dubious fitness" of the corporate model. "This is a model taken inappropriately from the business world ­- where it's not that successful, either," he said. Its adherents "look at results rather than the quality of education provided to our students."

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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