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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.4 No.23

In our lead story this week…..
The University of Otago will delay its decision on the Government's fee freeze offer until after a combined meeting of vice-chancellors next month. Otago's Vice-Chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg said all the country's vice-chancellors had agreed they would not to make any recommendations on the freeze to their university councils until after they had discussed the issue at a joint meeting in Auckland in mid-August. As well, the issue will be discussed at a planned roundtable meeting of university sector representatives scheduled for early August. Dr Fogelberg said the vice-chancellors had received a letter from the Government in response to a meeting they had with senior Cabinet ministers last month. He said it offered no further increase in funding next year but indicated the Government was considering how it might invest capital to make tertiary improvements as from the second half of next year.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Knowledge society some way off
2. Submission to TEAC
3. University Commissioners
4. Debt factor in shortage of doctors
5. Copyright discussion papers released
6. ASTE challenges cuts decision
7. Open University admitting high school students
8. Australia toughens visa rules for foreign students
9. Protest against private university

Canterbury University is to cut back student numbers on its computer science courses because of staff shortages. No replacements have been found for three teaching staff who recently left, and as a result there will be a cut of 20% in the numbers of second-year students taken on. The head of the Computer Science Department, Tim Bell said he hoped the cut in student numbers would be a temporary measure, but said it was difficult to attract qualified staff. It had taken more than a year to fill positions in the past, despite advertising internationally.

AUS has made a submission to the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) for the Commission's fourth and final report to be presented to the Government in September. The report deals with implementing the proposed tertiary education strategy, and the AUS submission sets out the union's positions on funding, research, quality assurance, governance and accountability. The submission is on-line at
A further AUS submission to TEAC on salary-setting mechanisms and the need for benchmarking with Australia is currently being prepared at the suggestion of the minister.

The Education and Science Select Committee is to report back to Parliament on 24 July on the Education Amendment (No.2) Bill. Universities mounted a strong campaign against Clause 33, which would allow the minister to dismiss a university council and replace it with a commissioner in cases where an institution was in financial trouble. That controversial clause has been amended, but the Select Committee has decided not to hear oral submissions on the amended version. AUS had recommended that this whole issue be set aside until after the establishment of the new Tertiary Education Commission. The submission is available at the AUS website at

The soaring cost of medical students' debts is being blamed for a serious shortage of rural GPS in the Otago-Southland region. The area is 20 GPs short in country areas, and administrators at Otago Medical School say one of the problems is the level of debt. Many students owe between $50,000 to $100,000. The postgraduate dean, Associate Professor Jim Read says that instead of going into general practice, many graduates are opting to go into higher-paid speciality areas such as opthamology or orthopaedic surgery. Others were going abroad to better-paid jobs.

The government has released two public discussion documents on copyright issues.
They look at the issues arising from the use of digital technology – one as it relates to performers, and the other to the Copyright Act 1994. The latter paper is available at Submissions close on 12 October 2001.

The Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ATSE) says a decision by Otago Polytechnic to cut its foundation course for the certificate in welding with a loss of two staff will worsen a nationwide shortage of welders. The national president, Jill Ovens says the union believes public tertiary education exists to meet industry training needs, and it should be funded accordingly. Otago Polytechnic acting chief executive, Tony Herd accepted the course was "quite probably" needed for economic development, but said the institution could not afford to run uneconomic courses. The union says the course was viable.

In a first in Britain, the Open University is to admit high school students for undergraduate courses. In an experimental programme, students under the age of 18 will be admitted from selected high schools for foreign language, mathematics, science and technology courses.

Australia has introduced visa restrictions for foreign students from China, India, and Pakistan.
Under the regulations, students from these countries will have their visa applications subject to closer scrutiny to reduce the likelihood of students becoming illegal immigrants. University leaders have attacked the rules, saying that their institutions may now lose valuable revenue.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on the government of New Brunswick to reconsider its decision to officially recognise the province's first privately-owned and for-profit university. Lansbridge University is a wholly Internet-based company owned by Learnsoft Corporation of Ottawa. CAUT President, Tom Booth says that at a time when Canada's and New Brunswick's public universities are badly underfunded, any public money going to private universities is too much. The university has to date received more than Canadian $600,000 in public grants and loans.
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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