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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5, No. 3

In our lead story this week…..
Welcoming the Government's announcement of an innovation strategy, the AUS National President, Dr Grant Duncan says the inclusion of tertiary education policy and strong investment in education as key elements in the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament this week is "particularly pleasing". "The work of the Tertiary Education Commission has set a challenging agenda for policy-makers and for the universities over the coming year. The talents and contributions of university staff to education and research are being recognised as a vital component in the development of a strong and innovative economy," he says. AUS is also welcoming the inclusion of creative industries in the sectors singled out for economic development and Dr Duncan hopes this will flow through to more research funding for New Zealand literature, film studies and history. But he is disappointed that the Prime Minister gave no indication of how much extra financial support the universities could expect. "The government’s stated commitment to innovation and education will need to be matched by a financial commitment to increase our national investment in tertiary education," he says. "We sincerely hope that the Prime Minister’s latest comments will be followed through by real reinvestment in university education and research in this year’s Budget.”

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. AUS support for Canadian colleagues
2. Otago V-C attacks funding process
3. Humanities PhDs show big rise
4. Brain drain a reality
5. More summer jobs
6. B.C. Government seeks to overrule collective agreements
7. American attitudes to higher education
8. Early babies mar career chances
9. New book analyses 'subversion' of Oz universities

The AUS has written to the premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell to protest at legislation that will allow university management to ignore aspects of their collective agreements with staff (see "World Watch" item). AUS calls the Bill "a totalitarian act unworthy of a democratic country such as Canada". If enacted, the letter says, the Bill will lead to a deterioration in higher education in B.C.

The Vice-Chancellor of Otago University, Dr Graeme Fogelberg says the present, relatively simple, although under-funded, funding system is to be replaced under the reforms with a more complex system that is still under-funded. He made his comments during this week's University Council meeting which included discussion on Otago's submissions on TEAC’s "Shaping the Funding Framework" as well as another report on strategic directions for the sector. Dr Fogelberg also said responding to government reports was becoming a time-consuming job given that some reports were released late, and little time was given for tertiary institutions to respond.

The latest survey of university graduate destinations shows a big increase in the number of doctorates in humanities, coupled with a steep fall in the number of physical science PhDs. In 2000, 93 doctorates were awarded in the humanities, well up on the 47 awarded in 1999. Thirty-nine PhDs were awarded in 2000 in the physical sciences compared with 80 in 1999. The drop in the physical science PhD graduates comes at a time when schools report a critical shortage of physics teachers, and the government is emphasising the need for a greater emphasis on sciences.

A major new report has found that the equivalent of 20% of the New Zealand domestic workforce is currently working overseas and concludes that any further reduction in the country's "talent pool" will be a major concern. The report by L.E.K. Consulting suggests people are leaving because of a lack of exciting career opportunities at home, and calls for a strategy to build a talented nation, including intensifying the hunt for talented immigrants, developing Auckland as New Zealand's "global lifestyle city", and competitive taxes.

Student Job Search reports that summer job opportunities for students have increased this year, with 26,705 students placed in employment, a rise of 13.6% on last year. The number of weeks those students worked also showed a rise of 17%.

Auckland University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Raewyn Dalziel, has advised “Tertiary Update” that there is no proposal to change academic titles at Auckland and that the paper on academic titles is merely a discussion paper. “Tertiary Update” welcomes the clarification but considers this to be a national, rather than local, issue.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on British Columbia's college presidents to respect the collective agreements they have negotiated with faculty or face censure. The warning follows the passage of the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act by the provincial Liberal government. This allows tertiary education institutions to ignore provisions in collective agreements and to increase class sizes, require faculty staff to take on more students, and force teachers to deliver courses on-line. In a letter to college presidents, the CAUT says it hopes college management has "the integrity, courage and honesty to respect your collective agreement". To ignore it "will signal that your word is of no account; that agreements reached with you are not worth the paper on which they are written", it says.

A national survey of attitudes to higher education in the U.S. shows Americans increasingly believe in the importance of a college education but are worried that cutbacks in spending on public colleges could damage quality. The survey is published once every two years by the American Council on Education. The latest one found 77% of those surveyed believed a college education is more important than it was ten years ago, up from 73% in 2000. Nearly 90% recognised the importance of good public colleges and universities in producing a well-trained workforce. But 77% also worried that state funding cuts could impair quality.

A report by two Californian academics has found that women who have children early in their academic life do hurt their career chances. It finds that women giving birth before doing five years of post PhD work were 24% less likely to get tenure in the sciences, and 20% less likely in the humanities than men who became fathers. In the men's case, they were more likely to advance their careers if they had children. The report calls for steps to be taken to help women who begin families early in their career, including mentoring, and providing a part-time tenure track.

Just published is a book that analyses the impact of commercialism and managerialism on Australian universities. "The subversion of Australian Universities" is edited by John Biggs and Richard Davis and is available free online at
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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