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AUs Tertiary Update Vol 4 No 20

AUS WEB SITEAUS Tertiary Update Vol. 4 No. 20, 21 June 2001
In our lead story this week…..

AUS is continuing discussions with the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee [NZVCC] on holding a crisis summit to discuss the consequences for universities of the Government's fee freeze deal. As the individual university councils ponder their response to the deal, the AUS Council agreed to hold no position on whether individual tertiary institutions should accept the Government’s budgetary offer, stating that the offer was unconscionable and unacceptable. Neither option offered by the Government was acceptable because it demonstrates a failure of the Government to support the public tertiary education system. Meanwhile, the NZVCC reports that dialogue between universities and the Government is about to take place. At the same time, the NZVCC repeated its advice to university councils not to accept the deal, which it says will leave universities with a funding shortfall of $24 million next year, on top of an $18.3 million shortfall from last year’s fees freeze deal. Councils have until 31 August to either accept or reject the 2002 deal.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
An unfortunate example
Impact of international students
We applaud the sentiments, but where's the policy?
Now we are ten
Export boom has its downside
European groups plan research push

The National Party leader, Jenny Shipley -- in praising the performance of private training providers -- has chosen an unfortunate example. Mrs Shipley says private training providers ‘have helped to maintain high performance standards amongst public tertiary providers’ and cites the Careerlink College as an outstanding example. AUS understands, however, that the college was the subject of a recent complaint on the Holmes Programme. Apparently, the Certificate in Bar Management offered by the college is not recognised by the Licensing Control Authority and so has limited use for job seekers.

A new report says New Zealand must provide more guidance and support for institutions that have international students on their rolls if the country is ever to become a world leader in the field of export education. The report -- "The Impact of International Students on Domestic Students and Host Institutions" -- is written by the head of the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, Professor Colleen Ward and is available at She says the presence of international students, even in large numbers, is not of itself enough to promote intercultural interactions, develop friendships, and result in result in international understanding. She says structures need to be put in place to achieve this. The Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey, says the report has important implications for the future direction of the New Zealand export education market. He says he has asked the Ministry of Education to look at how to provide greater support and guidance for institutions hosting international students, including developing examples of best practice.

Meanwhile, in an article in NZ Education Review this week ("No quality without change"), AUS notes Minister Steve Maharey’s statement that he wants a strategic approach to export education that is "pitched at providing quality". At the same time he acknowledges that "development of the industry needs to be in harmony with the government’s agenda with regard to strengthening the capabilities of institutions at both secondary and tertiary levels". AUS sees this as a principled and pragmatic approach to export education, but we must note that Mr Maharey's statements contradict current policy. It is no good the Government promoting high quality university education for international students, or domestic students come to that, without a commitment to properly funding and supporting the institutions and staff that are expected to provide it. There is sophisticated and well-established international competition for international students, with the USA, UK and Australia being the main players. New Zealand universities have to be seen to be of international standard, with high quality research and teaching staff and facilities, if they are to be serious contenders in the export education industry.

It's time for celebration. On 1 July the Association of University Staff celebrates its 10th anniversary. AUS was formed in 1991 when the Association of University Teachers (AUT) merged with the University Technicians' Union (UTU). Earlier, in 1989, the Association of New Zealand University Library Staff had merged with AUT. The then President of AUS, Ruth Butterworth -- who served between 1990 and 1991 -- summed up the amalgamation of the various unions this way:
"The Association has been signally strengthened by the addition of technical staff, not simply by numerical growth or even by the very considerable contribution made by the transfer of UTU assets at both national and branch level; but much more importantly, because this new Association has a greater breadth in its expertise and approach to university problems than had its predecessor".
The AUT was formed in 1923 and Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tarling has recently completed a 75-year history of AUT and its successor AUS, entitled "Professionals and Unionists".


Staying with the subject of export education, this time in the Australian context…
a new report suggests that while the past decade's push into international education has boosted the income of universities, it has also changed the nature of higher education. The report -- "The Comparative Performance of Australia as a Knowledge Nation" -- says there has been a skewing towards high revenue disciplines such as business studies away from courses in engineering and science that are important to the knowledge economy. It says the proportion of overseas students doing research higher degrees, engineering and science has halved since 1990. Between 1990 and 1999 the number of domestic business studies graduates rose by 107%, but international graduates were up 729%. The report was commissioned by left-wing think tank the Chifley Research Centre, and released by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley last week. It was conducted by Mark Considine of the University of Melbourne, Simon Marginson of Monash, Peter Sheehan of the Victoria University of Technology and Margarita Kumnick of Victoria University of Technology. The report shows income from international student fees at Australian universities went from $136 million in 1990 to $686 million in 1999. But the way it has changed the nature of higher education leads the reports authors to conclude: "This is an unmistakable sign that the international program is 'dumbing down'." Australia now has the second highest proportion of international higher education students in the OECD behind Switzerland.

The European Union and the European Investment Bank have signed an agreement to promote research and technical innovation. Under the agreement they will join forces to boost spending on research and to use those funds more effectively. They will establish a joint steering committee to co-ordinate research support and avoid duplication of effort. An E.U. official said science in Europe was on a par with the U.S. and Japan, but lagged when it came to patenting and setting up companies to develop products. This is put down to Europe's relatively low spending on research. The 15 member countries of the European Union all invested approximately 1.9 percent of their gross national products in research in 1998, compared with 2.6 percent in the United States and 3 percent in Japan. Current New Zealand spending on research, as a percentage of GDP, is 0.64% for the public sector and 0.34% for the private.

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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