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University staff reject secret offer

6 March 2002
Attention Education Reporters

University staff reject secret offer to universities

The Association of University Staff [AUS] has expressed dismay at reports of a 4.5% increase in Government funding of student numbers at universities in return for another freeze on student fees.

Dr Grant Duncan, National President of AUS said, “The 4.5% figure, supposedly discussed in secret with the vice-chancellors, is simply not adequate for rebuilding the sector.”

“The net effect of such an offer, given the fee-freeze and discounting inflation, would be to leave institutions in the same mire that they are presently in.”

“Further industrial unrest, like that which has occurred this week, would be the inevitable outcome.”

“To make a fee-freeze deal acceptable to staff, an increase in government funding in the range of 12 to 20% would be essential to reinvest in and rebuild a sector that everyone knows has been underfunded for years.”

“Another way to solve the problems would be to have cumulative 12% increases each year for the next 3 years,” said Dr Duncan.

“Increases of 12% or more would mean that government would no longer be forcing university staff to pay for the fee freeze through increasing workloads and decreasing salary scales.”

“4.5% is a recipe for further unrest in the sector,' warned Dr Duncan. ‘It illustrates Government’s duplicitous role. The Minister claims that he has no direct role in industrial relations and yet Government makes funding decisions that directly predetermine industrial outcomes in the universities.”

“The goal of a 12% increase in government funding for three years would require an estimated $91.3 million in the first year, if student participation remains stable; or a total new input of $593 million over the next 3 years. These goals should be reflected in the 2002-3 Budget and the new money should be invested in reducing staff-student ratios and offering competitive salaries.” Dr Duncan emphasised that, “The kind of money we're talking about is less than that invested in rescuing Air New Zealand.”

“If the Budget figure is inadequate, AUS may be forced to reject further fees stabilisation policies, eventhough we do not wish to see student fees rise,” said Dr Duncan.

Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President, 021 680 475
Rob Crozier, AUS General Secretary, 04 915 6691, 021 375 661

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