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Policy Initiatives on Tertiray Staffing Welcome

Association of University Staff (AUS) National President Dr Grant Duncan welcomed the announcement today by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Steve Maharey, of a strategic review and plan for the tertiary education workforce.

“This Labour policy recognises that Government must ensure that the tertiary education workforce is sustainable. The staffing issues in the universities have been neglected for too long. University staff salaries and conditions fall well below those of their counterparts overseas and these people work in an international market. There are no national data kept on the make-up of the workforce and there is no national planning to ensure universities can continue to get the staff they need. This policy will enable the sector to work together with the Tertiary Education Commission to address the situation, and it will reinforce the role of Government in ensuring that universities are adequately funded to meet true staffing costs,” said Dr Duncan.

Dr Duncan said AUS also welcomed a number of other initiatives in the policy, including setting funding levels for institutions on a three-year cycle, focussing attention on the training and development of tertiary-level teachers, increasing the number of Centres of Research Excellence, increasing funding available for the Performance-Based Research Fund and introducing a pool of funding to enable new researchers to begin their research careers.

“The main problem in the university sector is a lack of funding from the Government to the institutions. Since 1990 AUS has been warning that planning is needed to sustain the university workforce. The policies announced today go some way to recognising the key role staff will play in all the plans Government has for the sector. Their aim is to sustain and improve the quality of research and teaching in the tertiary sector,” he said. “You can’t have high-quality university education and research without the development of a high-quality professional workforce. It looks like we are now getting some active recognition of that from the Minister, and this will be welcomed by AUS members.”

Dr Grant Duncan, AUS National President, 09 443 9700 ext 9086 [day], 021 680 475 or Helen Kelly, AUS General Secretary, 04 9156691, 027 4366308

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