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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 4 No 43

In our lead story this week…..
The Annual Association of University Staff (AUS) Conference, with the theme of 'Invest in All University Staff' was held this week in Wellington. Delegates representing more than 6000 staff in New Zealand universities reviewed the current AUS industrial and political campaign and planned continuing political and industrial action. The following resolution was passed:
"The Annual Conference …………
Affirms that university staff, because of the research they undertake and support, the knowledge they transmit, the skills they teach, and the intellectual leadership they provide, enrich the wellbeing and social and economic development of a free, democratic, and prosperous knowledge-based society;
Notes with extreme concern that to date in its term, the Government has done nothing to address the severe problems of remuneration, retention and recruitment of university staff, and that the Government’s actions have intensified competitive pressures for universities, continued to undermine the productive talent of university staff, and denied university staff the core benefits of the Employment Relations Act.
And, therefore, Calls on the Government to constructively address these specific problems by immediately:
1. Substantially raising public investment in university education;
2. Retaining legislative protection for and affirmation of the distinctive role of universities and of degree-level qualifications;
3. Undertaking work to establish a Tertiary Price Index, and to review the cost categories in the tertiary funding formula; and
4. Entering into constructive, good faith negotiations with the AUS and other tertiary sector unions to replace the current dysfunctional salary-setting mechanism in the sector with a mechanism that will ensure that the objectives of the objectives of both the industrial relations and the tertiary sector reforms are achieved. For full details of the conference proceedings, visit our website at

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
Tertiary education legislation tabled in parliament
Wanganui/UCOL merger going ahead
Centres of Excellence Research Fund well supported
'Get involved', Minister tells business
Canadian academics want anti-terror bill withdrawn
AUT exec. choice for general secretary

The government this week tabled its legislation for a new-look tertiary education sector. The Tertiary Education Reform Bill sets up a new permanent Crown entity – the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) – to oversee the quality, relevance of tertiary education and its contribution to New Zealand's economic and social development. It also contains amendments to the Industry Training Act in the light of a recent review of industry training. The tabling of the bill coincided with a speech by the Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey to this week's AUS conference. Mr Maharey told delegates the new legislation was a key milestone in the government's programme to transform the sector to meet the needs of learners and employers for the knowledge society. “The reforms ushered in by the Bill will bring about a more integrated tertiary sector, enable greater co-operation and collaboration amongst providers and ITOs and much stronger alignment with New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural development," he said. Mr Maharey said the bill also strengthened quality by allowing NZQA to initiate effective early intervention where needed. After its first reading, the bill will be referred to the Education and Science Select Committee for consideration.

The government has announced that Wanganui Polytechnic is to become part of Palmerston North's Universal College of Learning (UCOL). Announcing the decision, Steve Maharey said the decision would end uncertainty in the region, while protecting the interests of the Wanganui community. He also gave assurances that Wanganui's computer graphics course – the Computer Graphic Design Programme – would continue its academic relationship with Waikato University. The programme takes 25 students each year from the hundred or more applications it receives. The course has an international reputation and this year it won all three New Zealand student awards of interactive design. However, staff had been worried that it might lose staff and students to offshore institutions if it became part of UCOL. Meanwhile, theVice-Chancellor of Waikato University has given assurances that his university remains committed to the Wanganui programme. "We are satisfied that the necessary elements of the Computer Graphic Design Programme can be secured," he said.

Forty-five applications have been received for a share of the government’s new $60m. fund to build Centres of Research Excellence in the tertiary education sector. Seven universities and three polytechnics have applied, along with one wananga, with a number of the applications being in the form of partnerships. Details of the applications are available at The fields of research range from neuroscience to biodiversity and access to effective education, with four proposals concerning Maori issues in education and social policy. Between three and six Centres of Research Excellence are expected to be set up, with the successful applicants to be announced in early March.

The Minister in charge of tertiary education has told the business community it is time it became involved with the government, stakeholders within the tertiary sector, and the community at large, in developing a Tertiary Education Strategy. He told an exporters' conference in Wellington this week that New Zealand needed a tertiary education system that was "connected" to national development goals and other sectors of society and the economy, meeting the needs of end users. That included the needs of students getting their degrees, but also the needs of stakeholders within the "real economy". The minister has announced that the draft of the Tertiary Education Strategy will be released on 18 December for public consultation.


The union representing Canadian academic staff is calling on the federal government to withdraw its anti-terrorism legislation, known as Bill C-36. The bill is similar to legislation currently before the New Zealand parliament. The Canadian Association of University of University Teachers (CAUT) annual meeting in Ottawa unanimously passed a resolution condemning the bill for the threat it posed to civil liberties and academic freedom. CAUT President, Tom Booth said that under the legislation as proposed, legitimate advocacy groups could be considered terrorist organisations. He said the bill could also allow greater police surveillance of university and college campuses, putting at risk the academic freedom of professors and researchers.

In Britain, the current assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers (AUT), Sally Hunt has been chosen as the official candidate for the post of General Secretary. She has worked for the union for seven years specialising in equal opportunities and recruitment. Two nominations have been received from the membership. They are John Duffy of Birmingham University and Martin Hughes of Durham. They now have fourteen days to decide whether they are satisfied with the AUT Executive's choice, or whether they wish to see the matter go to a vote.

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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