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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 4 No 10

In our lead story this week…..
The Association of University Staff has written to the Trade Negotiations Minister, Jim Sutton to take up an offer of consultations prior to a new round of international trade talks in Geneva. Mr Sutton has said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will be consulting with representatives of the country's service industries – which includes the tertiary education sector – as the Geneva talks enter a more substantive phase. "We now have a work programme for negotiations over the next year, and a process for discussing how to further liberalise the services sector. This means New Zealand and other WTO members will start to consider in detail a range of negotiating proposals from developed and developing countries alike," he says. AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier has written to Mr Sutton requesting a meeting with MFAT officials and the Ministry of Education later this month. A meeting with MFAT officials is now scheduled for 19 April.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. ACT support for competition strongly criticised
2. Debt-free women key to our children’s future
3. Employment Relations Education group named
4. Review team announced for Massey
5. MIT classes free on the web
6. …Meanwhile, over at U21
7. Hawaii academics on strike
8. Streamlining urged in Europe
9. Dartmouth College increases financial aid to students

Tertiary Education spokesman for the ACT party, Stephen Franks has criticised the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission's blueprint for the future, saying it will stamp out competition in the sector. Referring to the Wellington situation, Mr Franks says the capital has "the exciting prospect of becoming a hub for design" with Massey and Victoria Universities both determined to have architecture schools. "In competing they will create a buzz of ideas," he says. "Wellington as an education centre will complement our growing IT industry. But we need the ferment of lots of providers and employers, public and private".
But Mr Frank's comments have drawn a sharp response from the Victoria University Students' Association. Its president, Chris Hipkins calls the ACT Party's opposition to the recommendations "short-sighted" and lacking in vision. "Even the National Party has admitted that the market has failed to deliver real choice in tertiary education," Mr Hipkins says. "Why can’t the ACT party face up to the realities too?” Taking Mr Franks' example of Victoria and Massey competing in Wellington, he says it has meant scarce resources have been split in half, and students have suffered as a result. We'd agree there!

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) says recent research undertaken for the Ministry of Education has highlighted the importance of investing in the future of New Zealand by releasing female students from a lifetime of debt. The ATSA president, Keith Clark says Cathy Wylie's study, "Competent Children" has highlighted the fact that a well-educated mother could mean the difference between a child passing or failing at school. “In light of this research, how can the government continue to support a student loan scheme which discourages women from studying, or commits them to a lifetime of debt?” asked Mr Clark. Research undertaken by ATSA and NZUSA in 1999 showed that the average time taken for a woman to repay her student loan was 51 years, compared to the average repayment time of 17 years for men.

The Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson has named the people who will service on the Employment Relations Education group under the new employment law. The 9 members of the committee include people from employer, employee, Maori, Pacific and tertiary education organisations. From the tertiary sector are Wilf Malcolm, former vice-chancellor of Waikato University – who will chair the committee – and Professor Pat Walsh of Victoria University.
AUS intends applying for funding from the committee later this year to run courses in 2001 relating to stress and workload levels in universities.

Massey University Vice-chancellor, Professor James McWha has announced the members of the review body that will investigate and report on the university's structures and processes for academic policy-making. The review was agreed to as part of the out-of-court settlement between AUS and Massey in October last year and AUS was consulted about the review team membership. It is headed by Professor Sylvia Rumball, a former Dean of Science at Massey. The other members are former Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Dr Wilf Malcolm; Professors Luanna Meyer of Massey's Hokowhitu campus, Robyn Munford of the Tiritea Campus; and Robert McKibbon representing the Albany campus. The review is due to be completed by 31 October 2001.

While other universities ponder how to make money out of their courses on the Internet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has decided to put all its course materials on the Internet where they will be free to all-comers. MIT says that over a 10-year period it will put lecture notes, exams, simulations, and video lectures for around 2,000 courses on public web sites. Visitors to the sites will not, of course, earn college credits. The Institute says it is not worried that its students will resent paying $26,000 a year in tuition fees when the public can simply log on and get the material for free. Officials say the web surfers will miss out on the intensive learning environment that students experience when they attend MIT.

Universitas21 campuses are apparently falling over themselves to commit large sums of money to the joint U21 venture with Thomson Learning (see “Tertiary Update” Vol. 4 No. 2). “Tertiary Update” understands that the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Melbourne, New South Wales, Hong Kong, British Columbia, McGill and the National University of Singapore are prepared to “invest” sums between $US1m. and $US5m in the venture. Toronto and Michigan appear to have abandoned U21 but new entrants Virginia Tech, Georgia and New York University are also likely to contribute. Auckland and Queensland have yet to commit but “Tertiary Update” understands that Auckland is seriously considering contributing $US1m.

More than 3,000 faculty members at all campuses of the University of Hawaii have been on strike for the past week. The strike coincides with a teachers’ strike that has also closed all public schools in Hawaii. Salary scales for faculty have not increased since the previous contract expired in June 1999. AUS has sent a message of support to the union.

European university leaders want their governments to speed the harmonisation of Europe's highly diverse tertiary system. Among the changes they want are bachelors' and masters' degrees to replace the current variety of qualifications, and a credit system to help make studies more flexible. The education leaders, who were meeting in Spain, stressed that reforming the system would enhance the international reputation of European universities, and help them compete for the growing number of Asian students who want to study abroad.

Dartmouth College is the latest top-notch United States institution to announce financial incentives to attract top students to study there. It says it is reducing the loan-repayment obligations of its students, based on their parents' income, and is adding an extra US$1.6m. to its scholarship fund. Most students will see a reduction of between US$1,225 and US$1,500 in their loans, while those from families earning less than US$45,000 will receive outright grants in their first year.

EASTER GREETINGS We’re a day early because of the Easter break. We wish all our readers a happy Easter.
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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