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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 4 No 12

In our lead story this week…..
Canterbury University is the latest to feel the pinch of funding woes. Vice-Chancellor, Daryl le Grew has advised staff that a policy of non-replacement of staff who leave has been put in place for 2001. Exceptions to this policy will only be made if there are strong supporting cases. The library has indicated that significant cuts in journal and book purchases will be made, partly caused by the fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar.
This announcement comes at a time when institutions are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Government’s Budget (to be presented on 24 May). Initial rumours concerning the Government’s proposed continuation of a funding increase for a further tuition fee freeze give no cause for optimism in the short term.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Medical students fear the worst for fees
2. Workplace planning back in vogue
3. Foremost scientist and union chief to speak at VUW
4. Refurbishment programme in Japan
5. E-learning not so cheap
6. Strike looms in UK

As tertiary education leaders warn they may have to lift their fees next year if the government repeats its fee-freeze offer, there are fears medical students' fees will be under the most pressure. Tertiary institutions held their tuition fees this year in return for a 2.3% increase in their government, but say they may not be able to afford to take up a similar deal for next year. Otago medical school fees had been frozen for a year prior to the fee-freeze deal, and now the Otago University Students' Association president Ayesa Verrall says rumours abound that those students could face an increase in fees of up to 30%.
The Otago University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graeme Fogelberg has written to the Minister of Health, Annette King pointing out that the medical school is unable to match the salaries of public and private hospital staff. AUS has also written to Mrs King about the inequity of salaries (see "Tertiary Update", Vol.4 No. 11).

The government has issued a discussion paper analysing the challenges facing the New Zealand labour market over the next decade – nearly 10 years after AUS first advocated some form of workforce projection to help in planning tertiary education. The "Workplace 2010" document identifies globalisation of the international economy and the workplace as the key challenge facing employers and employees, with others being the ageing population, rapid change, training, migration, working conditions and technological change. The paper is available on the internet at:
In 1993, AUS convened a seminar entitled "The Labour Market and the Universities" in which it advocated workforce projections and planning on the future direction and development of tertiary education. It's a pleasant surprise to have government act after a decade of ignoring the issues altogether.

The president of the University of Hawaii's academic staff union, Professor Alexander Malahoff, is to speak at Victoria University this week. His topic – "A Tale of Two Universities: University of Hawaii and VUW" – will deal with the recent 13-day strike by academics in Hawaii ("Tertiary Update" Vol. 4 No. 11). The Professor will discuss the issues behind the action, namely salaries and workload, and make comparisons with the situation in New Zealand universities, and Victoria in particular. Professor Malahoff was educated in New Zealand, gaining an MSc from Victoria and a PhD from Auckland. He is a world-renowned oceanographer and a member of the Board of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in New Zealand. During his visit to Wellington he will receive an honorary Doctorate of Science from Victoria and speak at the science graduation. For Wellington readers, his talks will be held in Kirk 310 between 12 noon and 1pm on Friday 27 April.


The Japanese Ministry of Education has announced it will spend US$12 bn over the next five years on constructing new buildings and carrying out long overdue renovations at state-run universities. Some of the buildings have not been renovated for more than 25 years. Top priority will be bringing buildings built more than 30 years ago up to current earthquake safety standards.

In the United States, the National Education Association (NEA) is telling its members that on-line instruction is almost always more expensive than traditional face-to-face teaching. The message comes in a manual drawn up by the Association to help faculty members bargaining over distance-learning issues. It is also designed for use by college officials who need a formula to explore the specific Information Technology (IT) costs at their institutions. The NEA concludes that: "For small courses, in-person instruction will always be less expensive than instruction via the Internet," and warns that IT should never be adopted "to save money" since it is not likely to achieve that goal. It says, however, that instruction electronically may help students who cannot physically attend classes because of business or family commitments, or because they live in remote locations. The manual has drawn criticism from supporters of e-learning. The director of one Web-based distance learning institution said it had "the smell of Ludditism" and charged that the findings were too narrow. But the NEA stands by its findings, stressing that doing "distance education right" and following the principles of quality is not going to be cheap.

NATFHE, the union representing academics in the “new” universities in the United Kingdom, has begun balloting members in England and Wales on industrial action over pay, to start with a one-day strike.
Natfhe is balloting members in 280 colleges for disruptive action to back up a demand for an immediate £3,000 pay rise.
The one-day strike would be on 22 May. The result of the ballot will be announced on 10 May.
The employers say they recognise their staffs' case for more pay and negotiations are continuing with all the unions involved.
Union leaders say morale among teaching staff, made worse by excessive workloads, is at an all-time low.

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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