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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5, No. 20

In our lead story this week…..
The General Secretary of the Association of University Staff (AUS) says the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) members appointed this week have an important, but difficult job ahead of them given the funding shortage in the sector. Helen Kelly that without adequate funding it will be difficult for the Commissioners to meet their brief to lift the quality of, and access to, tertiary education. “Unless the Government bites the bullet and commits to investing real new money in the sector, the commissioners will only be able to deliver more of the same." Ms Kelly says. AUS is also disappointed that the TEC has no members representing the two key stakeholders, students and staff while many are senior executives for institutions that will receive money from the Commission.
Meanwhile, student organisations are also criticising the fact that there are no student representatives on the TEC.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Election won't stop reforms
2. Otago University powerhouse for economy
3. Crozier nominated for AAU Board
4. Acting V-C for Massey
5. Massey attracts leading alcohol and drugs researcher
6. Public Tertiary Education Coalition back for election
7. Women engineers need support
8. The globalisation of higher education
9. FBI accused of 'unlawful activity' at university
10. Death sentence for Libyan academics

The Minister in charge of tertiary education, Steve Maharey says the early election called for 27 July will not affect the government's tertiary education reform agenda, despite the fact that it will not be possible to pass the Tertiary Education Reform Bill. “The work programme to establish the permanent Commission is on track and will continue on the same basis as it has for the last 10 months," Mr Maharey says. He says governance will remain in the hands of the joint panel established last August, and trials of the charters and profiles required under the new system will continue. The Minister says work will continue on finalising the new integrated funding framework The establishment of further Centres of Research Excellence will also not be affected.
But the Alliance education spokesperson, Dr Liz Gordon says the "untimely and unnecessary" calling of the election has derailed Labour's flagship tertiary education policy and betrayed the hard work the coalition partners put into making it happen. Dr Gordon was the Chair of the Education and Science Select Committee that saw the bill through its public consultation process and back into Parliament.

An economic impact report prepared by Otago University says the university is of major significance to the New Zealand economy and the major economic force maintaining Dunedin's fortunes. The report, presented to the University Council meeting this week, estimates Otago's economic impact nationwide last year at $816m. – up 3.5% on the year before. The contribution to the Dunedin economy is put at $746.3m.of the total. Two major contributors to the increased impact were higher university goods and services spending and a 7.8% rise in student spending, in part the result of higher student numbers.

Retiring AUS general secretary, Rob Crozier has been nominated by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to be its representative on the Board of the NZ Universities Academic Audit Unit. The nomination has yet to be formally approved by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

Professor Graeme Fraser has been named as Acting Vice-Chancellor of Massey University. He will take over the role when the present Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha leaves in July. Professor Fraser had recently taken on the role of Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Social and public health researcher, Professor Sally Casswell has moved her alcohol and drug research centre to Massey University. Massey Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Nigel Long said the research centre would be known as the Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE Centre) and would complement Massey's teaching and research in social sciences.

University staff and student groups have revived the Public Tertiary Education Coalition (PTEC) to campaign for increased funding for public tertiary education in the build up to the election. PTEC was first formed in 1996 to campaign against under-funding in the election that year. PTEC says that, collectively, it represents more than 200,000 staff and students in the tertiary education sector. AUS is among the PTEC members.

A United States report says women engineering students are more likely to complete their degree if they have strong social support networks within their field. The report is the result of a three-year study of 20,000 female undergraduates and faculty members at 53 institutions. It concludes that mentor programmes, opportunities to network with women who are practising as engineers and professional clubs are the sorts of efforts that make women feel confident and valuable to the field, and so more likely to stick with it. Currently, only 20% of the students at US engineering schools are women.

An education consultant has told a workshop on international education in Malaysia that the tertiary sector worldwide is in "overdrive" as governments launch aggressive marketing campaigns and redefine policies to try to attract international students. John Fielden, director of CHEMS Consulting says governments are giving themselves daunting targets and are putting public money towards marketing in a bid to get a share of the market. Asked by one participant what the future was for local universities when pitted against international and "mega" universities, Mr Fielden said partnerships were the only answer, both credibly and professionally.

A US newspaper, the "San Francisco Chronicle" has reported it has 200,000 pages of Federal Bureau of Investigation documents showing the FBI engaged in unlawful activities at University of California, including a campaign to ruin the career of its president from 1958 to 1967, Clark Kerr. The newspaper says it received the documents after a 17-year fight for their release. The FBI has declined to comment.

Amnesty International (AI) reports that two Libyan academics – Abdullah Ahmed ‘Izzedin and Salem Abu Hanak – have been sentenced to death and scores of others people, including students, have received prison sentences of between 10 years and life on charges of supporting or sympathising with a banned Libyan Islamic group. Amnesty says the group is not known to be involved in or condone violence. The defendants were arrested in 1998, but their cases only came to court in March 2001. AI says their trial failed to conform to international standards for fair trial, including the right to choose a lawyer, and that Amnesty observors were not allowed to attend the proceedings.
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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