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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 4.

In our lead story this week…..
In a dramatic turn of events in Otago's pay negotiations, management has offered a 4% pay rise in return for an agreement to call off industrial action that would have affected this week's enrolment. Staff voted last Friday to reject the management's then pay offer of a 2.5% rise as of 1 February, with a further rise of 1.5% in August. The meeting also voted to refuse to do any work involved with this week's enrolment of students. The management responded by seeking an urgent Employment Court injunction to prevent the action going ahead. When the court turned the injunction request down, another round of negotiations was called on Sunday, and the new offer of 4% on rates from 1 February was made to union members provided enrolment went ahead unhindered. It was agreed that non-union staff who had accepted the pre-Christmas offer would not receive the new rate until at least 1 February next year and the industrial action was called off. The Association of University Staff (AUS) Industrial Officer, Jeff Rowe is warning that the 4% offer will probably not be enough to convince staff to call off further action, starting with a strike on 4 March. He says he was also "surprised" at the ease with which the management came up with 4% given that in the past the union had been told this wasn't possible. "It became very possible, very quickly." A university spokesperson said the university would "struggle considerably" if the 4% offer was accepted. Staff are meeting to discuss the new offer today (Thursday).

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Shortlist of Centres of Research Excellence
2. Massey ponders action over fake degrees
3. And now it’s the gourmet economy
4. International postgraduate recruitment to support innovation
5. Overseas students mistreated
6. GATS causes alarm in Scotland
7. New book on performance indicators
8. New laws threat to academic research
9. Wisconsin women to get pay rise

Eleven applicants are on the shortlist of "leading-edge" applicants seeking a share of the government's $60m Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE) fund. The centres on the shortlist will be visited by the selection panel, with between three and six successful applicants to be chosen to receive funding.

Massey university officials have sought legal advice over what to do about fake Massey Albany campus degrees being offered on the Internet, but believe it may prove too expensive to prosecute the offending websites. Fake degrees from a variety of universities are available over the Internet at a cost of $660. An extra $330 gets you an academic transcript complete with subject listings. The purchaser must agree to use the degrees for "historical or entertainment" purposes only, but Massey Vice-Chancellor, James McWha says it is difficult to imagine people paying that much money for a laugh. Because of the cost of prosecution, Massey says it may leave legal action to larger universities in Britain which have already made the first moves against the fake degrees. In the meantime, it's a case of "employers beware!"

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee (NZVCC) is currently working on a proposal to government on attracting more high-quality postgraduate students to study here. A list of possible ways to attract the students was discussed at a recent meeting of the NZVCC International Policy Committee. The individual universities are also preparing economic arguments to support their case. AUS will continue to advocate for a greater number of postgraduate scholarships in order that New Zealand can continue to “grow its own” academic staff for the future needs of the sector.

An Otago University Council member has called for a tougher stand against cheating during examinations. The annual discipline reports presented at the latest Council meeting showed 46 students were investigated for allegedly dishonest academic practices. Associate Professor Harlene Hayne noted that some students had received only a "severe reprimand" after taking notes into an examination and said this was a serious breach that merited stronger action. Most of the alleged cheating was in commerce - 22 students were investigated, while others were in sciences (11), humanities (8) and health sciences (5).

A new report has revealed that some overseas students in New Zealand are being badly treated. The report by the International Education Appeal Authority says the most common complaints concern fees, the failure of providers to stick to their contracts with students, and failure to look after their social and emotional wellbeing. The minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey calls the report a "wake-up call" for the billion-dollar industry and says some people in the industry should not be there because they put money before quality.


Universities in Scotland have come out strongly against inclusion of higher education in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Early this year, the Scottish department in charge of tertiary education asked the universities' umbrella group, Universities Scotland for its views on the potential for including higher education and hence opening up the sector to private providers. In response, the organisation stresses that the primary purpose of higher education is to promote learning and create knowledge and not to generate profit for shareholders. It makes clear the 21 universities in Scotland will strenuously oppose any moves to have higher education included in GATS on the grounds that globalisation could destroy higher education "as we know it".

Donald Savage has co-authored (with William Bruneau) a book on performance indicators, including a chapter on New Zealand. "Counting out the Scholars: the case against performance indicators in universities and colleges" is published by James Lorimer in Canada and costs $C21.35 plus postage. It can be ordered by fax (902) 425 0166 or by email from the distributor at There is also a web site at Dr. Savage was the author of a report on academic freedom in New Zealand which was commissioned by AUSNZ and appeared in "Troubled Times: Academic Freedom in New Zealand", edited by Rob Crozier and published by Dunmore Press in 2000. He has also submitted a critique of the government's recent proposals on performance indicators. For a copy, e-mail him at

Researchers and academics in Britain say export control legislation currently being considered in parliament poses a threat to academic freedom and research. Researchers say that if the Export Control Bill becomes law, the government would have the power to see academic papers before they were published, and to suppress them. They believe it could also prevent the use of e-mails between foreign colleagues. Government officials say the laws would not be applied to information already in the public domain and that the legislation contains an exemption for "basic scientific research".

The University of Wisconsin at Madison has announced that it will give pay raises totalling about $200,000 to 42 female faculty members as it tries to establish gender equity. The university has been moving to introduce pay equity since a 1992 study found a significant gap between men's and women's salaries that could not be explained by merit, accomplishment or years of service.

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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