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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.4 No.6

In our lead story this week…..
Last week's TEAC report has, predictably, drawn much comment from a range of sector, and other groups. We bring you a roundup of some of the views.
The Council of Trade Unions has welcomed the fact that the latest TEAC report recommends a "less competitive model for tertiary education". But its President, Ross Wilson stresses the importance of funding to the public tertiary sector. "The problems caused by the massive under-resourcing of the public tertiary system make it even more important that we get the funding as well as the structure of tertiary education sorted out,” he says.
The Vice-Chancellors' Committee (NZVCC) has welcomed proposals to establish a Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to oversee the sector, but the Chair, Professor James McWha says many questions remain over the detail of the Commission – including its autonomy, and the extent of its powers. "It will be important for the commission membership and accountability to be defined in such a way as to ensure it is not controlled by Government. Equally the commission’s powers to subvert university councils’ decision-making must be restricted.” The Committee also takes issue with the current timetable for implementing the changes, pointing out that there will be no substantial alteration in the funding system until 2003.
The Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) says the report takes " an extremely narrow and naive view of what polytechnics and colleges of education do". ASTE President, Jill Ovens says polytechnics are not included in the lists of providers of industry and professional education and training and she believes colleges of education are also being short-changed. “The colleges of education are professional schools that are involved in research and have been offering post-graduate programmes for some time,” she says. ASTE takes issue with the proposals to drop the term "colleges of education" as a protected term, saying it will lead to a plethora of private providers using the title. And it criticises the placement of the colleges under the classification of "specialist teaching institutions". This, ASTE points out, places the colleges in with institutions offering specialist training to undergraduate level only, and Ms Ovens asks: "Is this a bid by the universities to capture post-grad teacher education and under-cut the stand-alone colleges? If so, we are appalled by the recommendation.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Industry training review announced
2. Stocktake of student summer experiences
3. Audit unit director off to Australia
4. Cambridge coming to Christchurch
5. If only!
6. Sweeping away apartheid
7. Bidding war for students in US.

The government has released its public consultation document on the future of industry training in New Zealand – "Skills for the Knowledge Economy: Ngä möhiotanga mö te köhanga whai mätauranga". The review was conducted by the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Education in conjunction with Skill New Zealand to identify how the existing industry training system could be made more effective. The review focuses on improving access to, and responsiveness to training; the funding of industry training; developing the generic, transferable skills of the domestic workforce; raising the level of foundation skills – such as literacy and numeracy; and providing better information for decision-makers and planners.

The Associate Education Minister, Steve Maharey is to meet with student representatives next week to hear first hand students' experiences over the summer in finding jobs, and supporting themselves over the break. The meeting is a follow-up to one Mr Maharey had with students prior to the break. The minister now wants to review how things have actually gone over the summer and to review any evidence students have of outstanding problems.
Meanwhile, Mr Maharey has been listing some of the intiatives the government has taken to improve the lot of students – initiatives such as a freeze on fees, wiping interests on the loans of full-time and other low-income students while they are studying; freezing the headline interest rates – the list goes on. "Tertiary Update" wonders – “What about the workers?” – and notes that these initiatives have not bought one additional book for libraries or improved university infrastructures.

Dr. David Woodhouse – Director of the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit – is leaving to take up the position of Executive Director at the newly-formed Australian Universities Quality Agency. He will leave his New Zealand position in at the end of June.

Britain's Cambridge University has approached Burnside High School in Christchurch with a proposal to help set up a new off-campus technology centre. Burnside principal, Graham Stoop said the British university had made contact because of the Christchurch school's focus on information and communication technology (ICT) learning. He said Cambridge had an ICT diploma which they offered worldwide. Burnside plans to open the centre for Year 13 students in central Chistchurch next year.

Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York State has received a gift of US$360m. from an anonymous donor – in what is one of the largest donations ever made to an individual university in the United States. What is more the gift comes with no strings attached – the lucky institution can use the money as it wishes. Rensselaer's president, Shirley Ann Jackson was, predictably, thrilled with the gift. "The magnitude and unrestricted nature of the gift is just stunning," she said.

South Africa has announced a plan to end the fragmentation, duplication, and racial inequities left over from apartheid in its higher-education system. Under the plan, some public institutions will be merged, targets will be set for establishing a racial balance, and institutions will be encouraged to recruit from other African countries to increase the number of black and female faculty staff.

As the top universities in the United States vie for the best of the country's students, Princeton University has announced that it is eliminating loans for its next intake of first year students, and will instead give them grants. It has already announced higher grants for graduates. At the University of Pennsylvania, the bait is health insurance for all graduate students receiving full financial support, and an increase in the minimum stipend available at the graduate student level. The trend towards more generous allowances to attract students was started by Yale University, which announced in January it was increasing graduate stipends by 20% to US$13,700 for nine months of study.
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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