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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 23, 4 July 2002

In our lead story this week….
The Association of University Staff (AUS) is welcoming Labour's policy of a strategic review and plan for tertiary education staffing but stresses that it is an issue that has been neglected for too long. National President, Dr Grant Duncan says the Labour policy finally recognises that Government must ensure that the tertiary education workforce is sustainable. “You can’t have high-quality university education and research without the development of a high-quality professional workforce," he says. "It looks like we are now getting some active recognition of that from the Minister, and this will be welcomed by AUS members.” AUS is also welcoming other aspects of the policy, including a 3-year cycle for tertiary institution funding, training and development initiatives for tertiary-level teachers, an increase in the number of Centres of Research Excellence and the introduction of funding to enable new researchers to begin their research careers.

However, student leaders are not impressed. The policy says that if Labour is re-elected it will widen access to student allowances by raising parental income thresholds, and introduce scholarships and bonding to tackle the issues of recruitment and retention in key professions. Student leaders says, however that there is no indication how much the parental income threshold will be lifted, or how many more students would be eligible for allowances.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. New NZVCC Chair named
2. US donation swells Auckland Business School coffers
3. Family-friendly policies cost-effective
4. 'Experts' meet on research funding
5. 'Vague' promotion practices amount to discrimination
6. Less affluent being denied further education
7. 'Learn how to teach' edict out in Australia
8. Universitas 21 faces the questions

The vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland, Dr John Hood has been appointed chair of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC). He replaces Professor James McWha, who has resigned as vice-chancellor of Massey University to take up a position in Australia.

A United States businessman has contributed $3.5m. towards Auckland University's campaign to raise funds for its business school. The gift was made by Paul K. Kelly, who owns a manufacturing company and an investment banking firm. He also owns property in New Zealand and is behind a golf resort development on Northland's Karikari Peninsula. The university says to date it has raised about $7.5m. towards the school, with a similar amount under discussion. The initial target is $25m. to take full advantage of the Government’s offer of $25m. in matching funds.

A University of Waikato doctoral researcher says paid parental leave and other 'family-friendly' workplace initiatives could have positive implications for staff loyalty. Jarrod Haar has been studying how employers try to ensure family and work combine to the best advantage. He says the most popular "perk" in workplaces is flexitime – used by 95% of staff, but he found it didn't increase company loyalty, perhaps because it is widely available. Initiatives that did increase loyalty were creches, after-school care, employee assistance programmes and the provision of paid parental leave.

A group of experts from the world of research have met for the first time this week to discuss the detail of how the new funding body for research within the tertiary sector will work. The Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) will complement the Centres of Research Excellence funding announced in the Budget. The working group is chaired by Professor Marston Condor of the University of Auckland.


An appeals court in the United States has ruled that a black professor at a University of Arkansas community college can sue his employer for not considering him for a position, even though he did not apply for the job. Howard Lockridge – chair of Phillips Community College industrial and technical department – did not apply when the position of dean of industrial technology and workforce development was advertised, and the position was filled by a white man. Mr Lockridge subsequently filed a discrimination suit, which the employer countered by saying he had no case because he had not applied for the job in question. The appeal court disagreed, ruling that a college's failure to establish a clear policy for hiring and promotions may provide direct evidence of illegal discrimination. It also took into account Mr Lockridge's previous unsuccessful attempts to be promoted.

In the United States, a congressional advisory body has said nearly 170,000 top high-school graduates are not enrolling at college this year because they come from low-and moderate-income families who cannot afford to pay for a college education. The report by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance warns that unless the federal and state governments revitalise needs-based student aid programmes, by the end of the decade millions more students will in effect be barred from going on to further education.

"The Australian" newspaper has leaked details of a government report that suggests academics be required to have teaching qualifications before they can teach. The newspaper says the discussion paper – one in a series as part of Education Minister Brendan Nelson's higher education review – proposes that the link between teaching and research in universities be broken. Universities, it suggests, would be asked to recognise specialist teaching positions rather than expecting every academic to perform research.

A former chairman of the on-line distance education consortium, Universitas 21 says it intends focusing on the 85% of the world that live in environments where higher education choice is strictly limited, and where demand greatly outstrips supply. Dr Alan Gilbert, currently vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, was answering questions put to him during a web-based discussion on the Chronicle website ( The questions included Universitas' relationship with the consortium universities. Dr Gilbert said the degrees would be Universitas 21 qualifications, not those of the individual member institutions, and he said that while faculty from member universities would be used, in other cases staff with particular expertise would be brought in. Dr Gilbert was also asked about academic freedom in the light of the fact that the institution's partner is publishing conglomerate, Thomson Learning – something groups including AUS has been concerned about. Dr Gilbert said the question of academic freedom had been discussed at length. "We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that neither Thomson nor any other 'market -driven' interest can determine what is taught, or how, or at what level of quality," he said.

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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