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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 4 No. 32, 20 September

In our lead story this week…..
In an editorial, the Manawatu Evening Standard predicts that the lifestyle card will rear its head in the Massey negotiations on the AUS 8% pay claim - the "you don't work here for the money, so much as the Kiwi experience" argument. The Standard says, however, that it is interesting to learn that about 60% of New Zealand academics are from overseas. "Presumably", the paper comments, "they're not here for the money, which rather begs the question of just why they are teaching here." Meanwhile, Victoria's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon has told Parliament's Education and Science Select Committee that the university recently failed to recruit a senior lecturer from Singapore because it couldn't match his yearly salary of NZ$280,000. Senior lecturers at Victoria get a maximum of $75,527, with a bar at $68,561. "Tertiary Update" thinks it would take an awful lot of lifestyle to make up for the gap, although we note that Massey VC, Professor James McWha, is on record as stating that staff pay should be increased by 20% (NZ Herald, 23.6.01).

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Talks continuing on controversial Bill
2. Ombudsmen's tertiary focus strengthened
3. Canterbury alliance formed
4. Marsden Fund grants announced
5. Labour MP reassures private providers
6. Skilling New Zealand Conference
7. AUS message of sympathy
8. Greece shuns private colleges
9. Keep education out of GATS says EI

Vice-Chancellors have held more talks with Education ministers to discuss university concerns over the Education Amendment (No. 2) Bill. The universities have been challenging parts of the Bill, which is about to have its second reading in Parliament. They have warned that sections of the Bill pose a potential danger to institutional autonomy, academic freedom and the international standing of New Zealand universities. In particular, they want to see changes to Clause 33, which gives the minister power to dismiss a university council and replace it with a commissioner. There have been changes to the bill since it was first drawn up, including provision for an advisory panel to be appointed to assist where a commissioner is appointed to replace a council. But critics say the changes do not go far enough to meet their reservations.

The government is to appoint three new investigators to the Office of Ombudsmen next year to improve the investigation of complaints from students and staff at tertiary education institutions. The minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey told a meeting of Massey University Students' Association that the appointments would be made in January. He said the Office would also adopt a more "pro-active" approach to resolving complaints, including addressing them on site. It would work with tertiary institutions to develop operational protocols later this year.

Three of Canterbury's largest tertiary education providers – Christchurch College of Education, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), and the University of Canterbury –have joined forces to form a regional education alliance. The member institutions say the Canterbury Tertiary Alliance has been set up in response to calls for greater co-operation in the tertiary sector. They say it will lead to a reduction in the duplication of courses, will see a smooth system established for cross-crediting, and develop co-operative teaching programmes and joint degrees. The Chief Executive of CPIT, John Scott said a joint music degree was already under development between his institution and the University, while other working parties were looking at joint ventures including training and marketing.

Five universities have received around two-thirds of the research money distributed under the latest round of grants from the Marsden fund. The University of Auckland received the biggest proportion of funding with 33%. Otago was next with 16%, Canterbury received 8%, and Waikato and Victoria each account for 5%. The rest of the money went to Crown Research Institutes. The Marsden Fund says it was able to give money to only about 9% of the proposals it received and says this reflects the paucity of funding available for research rather than the quality of applications.

Labour MP John Tamihere has assured private tertiary education providers (PTEs) that the government has not "closed the door on them" despite the recent announcement of a moratorium on further PTE funding (see “Tertiary Update”, Vol. 4 No. 25). He said the government acknowledged the role PTEs had played in providing tertiary education to Maori and Pacific Island students. Mr Tamihere claims that 60% of all Maori who have some form of NZQA qualification have received their qualification from a private institution. AUS has recently lobbied government over the issue of tertiary education provision for Maori students pointing out that in 1999 there were 27,837 Maori EFTS in public tertiary institutions and 9,093 in PTEs. The comparable numbers for Pacific Island students were 8,241 and 2,908 respectively.

The Association of Polytechnics is to open up its annual conference to anyone with views on how polytechnics can contribute to the development of the national economy. The Association says it wants to build on the themes of the recent Knowledge Wave Conference in Auckland, moving beyond the broader theoretical discussion to "solutions that can be acted on". The conference – entitled Skilling the Nation – will be held in Palmerston North on 2-4 November. For further information and registration email:

AUS National President, Neville Blampied has sent a message of sympathy to the three US tertiary education unions in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Mr Blampied said colleagues in New Zealand share in the widespread sense of shock, outrage and horror at the acts of terrorism, and affirmed support for democratic values, civil society and the rule of law, both domestically and internationally.

The Socialist government in Greece has put paid to an opposition proposal to recognise private colleges and universities. Greece is the only European country where private education institutions are unconstitutional: their graduates are not able to apply for government jobs and their qualifications are not recognised by professions that require licenses such as engineering, law, medicine and accounting. A proposal to amend the constitution to recognise them was drafted by the New Democracy Party, but has been shelved by the Socialists. Under Greek law, a new amendment on the issue cannot be proposed for another 10 years.

A delegation from Education International (EI) has told the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mike Moore that quality in education depends on services being publicly funded and regulated by the state. EI met Mr Moore and his senior advisors at the Director General's request. EI says it is not convinced by Mr Moore's assertion that the current General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) will not undermine public services. Delegates made it clear the current text is unacceptable, as it leaves the door open for the commercialisation of education. EI wants the text amended to ensure education cannot be treated as a tradable commodity.
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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