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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 4 No 42

In our lead story this week…..
The Association of University Staff has seen a significant increase in new members since the union launched its industrial campaign for an 8% pay rise for university staff. AUS Otago has gained about 60 new members in the past month, and branch organiser at Massey, Jenny Collett reports a "dramatic increase" in non-union staff wanting to sign up there. She says many non-union staff had sought the advice of their union counterparts after Massey management last week extended their offer of a 1% lump sum payment and 2% pay rise for 2003 in addition to the original 1.8%, to non-union employees. The direct approach with the offer to non-union members has been condemned by Massey unions as a breach of good faith bargaining and an attempt to undermine the union attempts to get "fair and adequate" pay and conditions for staff. The Massey unions have launched a publicity campaign putting their side of the story. The campaign includes an e-mail message to non-union staff presenting "seven good reasons why you should not accept the employer's offer". These include the way academic salaries have fallen behind those of similar professions over the 1990s. Massey unions are due to discuss the latest management offer on 10 December, when negotiators will be recommending its rejection.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Otago roll ‘blow out’
2. Strong debate on tertiary sector report
3. Student loan misuse probe
4. Unitec stands by slogan
5. Walk-home service a hit
6. Melbourne Auckland outpost expanding
7. A degree with ‘altitude’?
8. Call for 'shared governance'
9. Harvard scrutinises 'grade inflation'

Otago University is reporting big increases in student enrolments, with a rise of 13% in first-year students for the second semester, an increase in North Islanders choosing to study at Otago, and a big rise in interest in humanities. At enrolment in August, the university had 17,600 students, up 2.9% on 2000. The first-year humanities roll saw the highest student growth – up around 20%. A marketing drive in the North Island, along with television advertising, saw the number of North Island students rise by 300 to 5976. The growth in student numbers also promises to increase Otago's budget surplus, with every 100 students worth about $1m in revenue. That has left staff wondering why the university is not considering sharing the proceeds equitably with its staff. Staff have rejected a pay offer of a 2% lump sum and 2% next February.

The Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) this week ends its six meetings around the country to hear reaction to its fourth and final report on the future of the tertiary education sector. The report, "Shaping the Funding Framework", was released for consultation earlier this month, and submissions close on at the end of January. At a presentation in Dunedin, the Commission was told that its proposal to relax the requirements for undergraduates to be taught by people also involved in research risked reducing New Zealand tertiary institutions to third-world status. Participants were also concerned that some disciplines would lose funding if the funding framework was changed and that raising the entry level would jeopardise Maori access.

An investigation is underway into the activities of a Taranaki-based private education provider (PETC) and possible misuse of the student loan scheme. A statement from the minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey says nearly $10m of tuition subsidies and more than $25m of student loans may be involved. Concerns include the quality of the courses, a big growth in student numbers in the middle of this year, and the inclusion of a computer in the tuition fee. The Ministry of Education moved in September to block PETC's access to further government funding while the investigation is underway, and approval of student loan applications for the two travel courses has been deferred. Mr Maharey says the Serious Fraud Office and Crown Law Office have advised that further investigation is warranted. However, PETC strongly denies the allegations. General Manager, Shona Glentworth says she wants to see the evidence the minister has. "There isn't any fraud. None at all," she says.

"Education Review” is reporting that the Auckland-based polytechnic, Unitec, is continuing to call itself “Tomorrow’s University”, despite a formal NZQA request to stop doing so. The institution wants to be recognised as a university of technology, but no such category exists at the moment. NZQA made its request following a Crown Law opinion that the slogan was in breach of both the Education and Fair Trading Acts.

A service providing personal alarms and escorts walking home alone at night from Victoria University has been a hit, according to the students' association. The service –Campus Angels – was set up after a series of attacks on women walking in Wellington, raising concerns it was stopping students using the library. The University says it has also reviewed security, installing extra security phones, and considering proposals for better campus lighting and more security cameras.

Melbourne University's Auckland presence, the Hawthorn Auckland language school, has seen its overseas student numbers grow from 25 to 175 in the past 12 months. The school is the first of 30 overseas schools planned by Melbourne University Private. Six new permanent full-time staff positions are currently being advertised to cope with the growing student numbers.

Wellington's "Dominion" newspaper reports that Massey has established the world’s first degree for flight attendants, but Kiwis shouldn't rush to apply. The Bachelor of Aviation Management degree is available only to female students who have already done a year's study at the Korean Asea Aviation College. At Massey, students will study English as a second language, safety, tourism and management plus occupational safety and health issues. At least one Massey member wonders why this is an undergraduate qualification and not a "higher" degree! Makes you wonder doesn't it?

At a time when TEAC and the Government are talking about moving away from representative Councils to small boards, a UK expert on university governance has attacked corporate-style management with the vice-chancellor as chief executive backed by a pliant Council. Professor Michael Shattock, who was Registrar of Warwick University for 30 years, told the Universities UK Conference that the exclusion of academics from dialogue and decision-making had failed to lead to academic success and had led to “improprieties and breakdowns.” Instead he emphasises collegiality. AUS Massey branch is currently awaiting the final report of a committee that has been carrying out a review of academic decision-making processes. The final report is due to be presented on 30 November.

A study shows that almost half of all undergraduate grades at Harvard University are A or A minus as a result of 16 years of 'grade inflation'. The humanities are the worst 'offenders' with 53.7% of grades at the top end, compared with 47.8% in the natural sciences, and 43.2% for social sciences. The study also found that mean grades tended to be higher in classes of 24 students or less.
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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