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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No.13, 26 April 2002

AUS WEB SITEAUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 13, 26 April 2002
In our lead story this week…..
Lincoln University academic staff members have voted to accept a 3% salary increase from 15 May, and a further 2% from January 2003, while ratification meetings are being held shortly at two other New Zealand universities to consider improved salary offers from employers.
In Canterbury, union members will vote in May on an offer that would see academic staff get a 3.5% increase and general staff 3.2%. The offer also increases paid parental leave for both groups from six weeks to nine. The new offer to Massey staff is of a 3.5% salary increase for both academic and general staff. Union members have also won an advantage, with Massey management agreeing not to initiate bargaining with non-union staff and that any staff who do negotiate on their own behalf will not be offered backdating of their increase.
Meanwhile, union members at Waikato have accepted their latest salary offer. They get an increase of 3.2% under the collective agreement, backdated to 1 October last year – backdating of the increase will apply to union members only. AUS Branch President, Dr Stan Jones, says the settlement is pleasing given the depressing beginning of negotiations six months ago. “The whole process happened against a background of the permanent financial crisis caused by successive governments deliberately reducing the investment the country has to make in its university system," he says.
However, industrial action is continuing at Victoria. Academic staff have agreed to withhold final grades in protest at the employer’s offer and at this stage nearly 2500 grades are expected to be affected. Staff are upset that their offer of a 3.2% increase is being linked to an alteration in the traditional term of the collective agreement and that part of the increase is dependent on the level of government funding. They point to the improved financial situation at Victoria, but say it has been at the expense of increasing staff workloads as student numbers rise. AUS General Staff Branch President, Tony Quinn, says a further increase in students numbers will add to pressure. "We are facing increasing pressures on staff in all areas: academics, librarians, technicians, and administration," he says. "At the same time the Vice-Chancellor is trying to limit our ability to bargain in negotiations."

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Levy proposed for export education industry
2. Losing our best and brightest
3. Unitec cleaners locked-out by Spotless
4. Call for review of links to Israel
5. AUT gets 'Lord's' support
6. Virtual university planned for Commonwealth

The Government is proposing to introduce a levy for institutions providing education for foreign fee-paying students, with the money going towards "a programme for the strategic development of the industry." The proposal was introduced to Parliament this week and has been referred to a Select Committee. The money collected would go towards a range of activities, including promotion, quality assurance, additional professional training, market and industry research and a scholarship programme. Commenting on the proposal, the Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey, said the export education industry contributed around $1bn to GDP and had a "strong reputation" in the field. "The opportunity is to build on this reputation. This means reinforcing quality, diversifying products and markets, broadening participation and achieving sustainable, balanced growth." AUS will be making a submission to the Select Committee. [AUS has recently updated its policy on international students and this can be found on our website noted below]

A Manawatu Evening Standard editorial suggests anyone with New Zealand's future interests at heart needs to heed the warning of former Otago University researcher, Robert Miller, on the affect financial pressures are having on the country's universities. Mr Miller has announced he is moving overseas for a year and has said universities here are in danger of losing their best and brightest because too much is being asked of them. The good news, the Manawatu Evening Standard says, is that he is going to return to New Zealand. "Many don't and the country is the poorer for it." The writer notes that the Minister has pledged to reshape the system along less competitive and commercial lines. "He'd better get a move on before it's all too late," is the paper's conclusion.

Cleaners at Auckland’s UNITEC staged a lunchtime picket last Friday after their employer -– Spotless Services – told them they were not needed during the recent semester break and would not be paid. Twenty-seven cleaners were told on 28 March that they should not return to work until 11 April and that they would not receive pay for those six working days. Their union, the Service & Food Workers Union, says that as they are permanent full-time employees that was in breach of their employment agreement and effectively amounted to a lock-out. SFWU says it is "pursuing legal remedies" on behalf of the staff.


The biggest lecturers' union in the UK, NATFHE, has called on universities and colleges of further education to review their academic links with Israel in the light of the Israeli army's "illegal and barbaric incursion" into Palestinian Authority territory, including universities and colleges. In a statement, the union's National Executive "regrets the deaths of so many Palestinians and Israelis". It also calls on Israel to lift its siege of the headquarters of the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, to withdraw its forces from Palestinian Authority areas, to open negotiations with the Palestinians in order to implement United Nations resolutions, and allow free access for staff and students to Palestinian universities and colleges. The National Executive resolved that all UK tertiary institutions ‘be urged to review – with a view to severing – any academic links they may have with Israel’ until those conditions are met.

Britain's House of Lords has "delighted" the Association of University Teachers (AUT) by voting for amendments to the controversial Export Control Bill. The AUT has been lobbying against parts of the Bill it says will allow government to restrict the free flow of academic ideas and research. The British Government accepts that some clauses giving the state the power to impose transfer controls on "technology of any description" and defining transfer to include phone calls, faxes, e-mails and letters could pose a threat to academic freedom. However, it wants to put the matter right with secondary legislation – an approach the AUT says is unacceptable. Jonathan Whitehead of the AUT says the union will now wait to see what the government will do in response to the Lords’ decision.

Discussions are underway to set up a virtual university to provide higher education to the 30 smallest nations in the Commonwealth. It is aimed at Commonwealth countries with a population of less than 1.5m. that have been unable to provide higher education because of factors such as weak economies, geographic isolation, and civil conflict. The virtual university grew out of concerns at the "digital divide" that has developed between the rich nations of the world and poorer states. The new university is not expected to be up and running before 2004 because of the bureaucratic processes it will have to pass through in the more than 50 countries involved in setting it up.

AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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