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AUS Tertiary Update Vol 5 No. 7, 14 March 2002

AUS WEB SITEAUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 7, 14 March 2002
In our lead story this week…..
Green MP Nandor Tanczos has voiced his concern at the state of the tertiary education sector, as a result of a recent tour of 15 institutions. During the tour, he met Branch representatives of the Association of University Staff (AUS) and student leaders. He said three terms of National Government has been a disaster for tertiary education, leaving institutions starved of cash and resources. “As a result we’ve had staff cuts and ever increasing fees and student debt. Academics are over-worked and struggling to get basic pay rises while this month students ‘celebrated’ $5b. worth of debt since the loan scheme was introduced 10 years ago,” he said. He also emphasised that New Zealanders must realise that it is not just students that are the losers: “Over a decade of underfunding has left tertiary institutions struggling to maintain libraries and resources, struggling to recruit and retain staff and struggling to keep class sizes down to an acceptable level. Some of the spending decisions by management haven’t helped, such as the millions spent on marketing and on some pretty excessive building projects, but that does not let the Government off the hook.” Mr Tanczos also highlighted the plight of staff, who, he said, had seen their pay eroded by inflation and were now struggling to get paid what they were worth. He said the Greens would continue to campaign for increased Government funding for the sector.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Industrial action follow-up
2. Government in the gun over Business School decision
3. Private interests take over old CIT campus
4. Go8 leaders, but not in everything
5. Corporate takeover of academe?
6. U.S. doing better by under-grads
7. U.K. students join equal pay campaign

A new round of collective employment agreement negotiations has been scheduled in the wake of last week's national day of industrial action in universities around the country. Union negotiators at Canterbury are due to begin another round of talks in early April and dates have been set down later this month for negotiations at Massey. Negotiations got underway this week at Victoria and for general staff at Lincoln. At Waikato, the employer has agreed union requests to return to talks, but as yet no date has been set. Meanwhile, members at Lincoln have voted to take further industrial action should their claim not be resolved to their satisfaction, and meetings are being held at other universities to discuss future action. Staff at the University of Otago have, as expected, this week ratified their employer offer of a 4% salary increase. The agreement runs until July this year, when new negotiations will be held. The ratification meetings also overwhelmingly passed two resolutions. One called on the university management to join the combined unions in actively lobbying government for increased funding for universities, the other was critical of the actions of the Vice-Chancellor and his representatives during negotiations. Those actions, the resolution states, have "seriously eroded the goodwill" between the Vice-Chancellor and staff. It also makes clear union members have accepted the 4% increase "reluctantly" and calls on their employer to make staff salaries "a serious priority for the future" or face the prospect of industrial action. Non-union members who accepted the Otago employer offer prior to Christmas will not be offered the new rates until at least 1 February 2003.

The influential education publication, New Zealand Education Review, has criticised the Government for agreeing in principle to fund the University of Auckland’s new business school without seeking independent advice. Under the proposal, the Government would give up to $25m. towards the school, with other money coming from the private sector. In its latest edition, Education Review says the Government is handing over the money after years of telling the sector it has no extra cash. It also says the provisional decision flies in the face of a decade-long government stance not to make capital contributions to tertiary institutions except through student subsidies. The Review is also critical of the fact that there was no independent assessment of the proposal and other institutions were not given the chance to contest the money. [See AUS Tertiary Update, ‘The McDonald’s School of Business?’, 28 February 2002, for AUS comment]

The Government has leased the old Central Institute of Technology campus in the Hutt Valley to Campus Group Holdings [CGH] which runs private universities in Australia. The current agreement will run from March to December 2002 and allows CGH to operate courses in conjunction with Chosun University of Korea. Minister Steve Maharey states that conditions include specifying that CGH will use the campus to educate international students and will not compete with local institutions. The Minister also states that CGH will not receive Government funding – and that students concerned would not be eligible for student loans. Regional polytechnics and universities, however, say that establishing a private tertiary institution on the old campus could threaten local public institutions and that the new institution will compete with existing providers for international students. Concerns have also been expressed that the students will add to current pressure on student accommodation.

As the Group of Eight Australian research universities begin a major marketing campaign to lift their profile they have released statistics on their performance. Collectively, they attract most of Australia's international citations and patents, 71% of competitive grants, 30% of the country's students and 38% of national operating grants. The eight – Adelaide, Australian National, Melbourne, Monash, NSW, Sydney, Queensland and West Australia – score lower however on areas including "good teaching", "appropriate workload" and "clear goals and standards". But their graduates do attract higher salaries when they join the workforce – A$35,000 on average compared with A$34,000 for other universities.

An American academic has criticised the corporate model in U.S. colleges, saying it is causing the destruction of American higher education. Zuleyma Tang Martinez, writing in the journal Workplace, says cancelling classes because low enrolments make them cost-ineffective, subsequent overcrowding of remaining classes and decreased subsidies for teaching, research, travel and materials costs are all damaging the learning experience. Ms Tang Martinez also criticises the trend away from tenure, warning that it will inevitably have a "chilling effect" on academic freedom. The full article is available online at:

A new report has found that research universities in the U.S. have improved their treatment of undergraduates after a 1998 study, undertaken by the Boyer Commission, indicated that teaching had for years taken a back seat to professors' research and writing. The latest, follow-up report has found that the 123 research universities had made "considerable headway". Undergraduates were now being given more opportunities to do research as recommended in the earlier report, and changes had been made to meet other recommendations. However the authors say many of the faculty members they spoke to felt that the values had not fundamentally changed, and that many professors still believed writing and research were more important than teaching.

Britain's National Union of Students (NUS) is backing a campaign for equal pay after a new survey showed that newly graduated women earn 15% less on average than men do. It has joined forces with the Equal Opportunities Commission, which has released figures showing that women earn 15% less up to the age of 24, rising to 44% less by age 50 to 55.

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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