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AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 5 No. 24, 11 July 2002

In our lead story this week…..
The head of a university business enterprise company says the latest statistics on investment in New Zealand research and development shows how it has deteriorated between 1998 and 2000 – a period in which economic performance was reasonably good. Mike Doig, who is CEO of Victoria Link Ltd in Wellington, says figures released by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology in its biennial report show R&D spending fell during the two-year period from 1.13% to 1.05% as a percentage of GDP. Government spending fell from 0.6% to 0.58% of GDP, while the business sector's contribution fell to 0.31%. Mr Doig says the figures put in question the government's target to invest 0.8% of GDP in research and development by 2010.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Students push election agenda
2. Canterbury Vice-chancellor off to Tasmania
3. Progressive Coalition announces tertiary policy
4. Vacancy at Massey AUS branch
5. Survey reveals workplace stress
6. Historic incident creates waves in Israeli academe
7. NTEU welcomes governance report
8. Academic quits Wollongong
9. Money 'enticement' to affect enterprise bargaining

Students around the country have this week been putting their case for universal student allowances before the public with a series of banners displayed to morning commuters. The co-president of the New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA), Andrew Campbell says students want this election to be about investment in education, warning that if another election goes by without a "significant reinvestment" in tertiary education, the country will face "a very real crisis within the sector".
Meanwhile, Otago students brought out their 'Student Debt Monster' – launched at a march in Dunedin last Saturday – to coincide with a visit to the city of the National Party leader, Bill English. The 'Monster' followed Mr English through the city during his visit to highlight what Otago University Students' Association president, Roz Connelly calls the shortfalls in National's tertiary policy. The 'Monster' is also making an appearance in Christchurch to coincide with a visit there of the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard.

The vice-chancellor of Canterbury University, Professor Daryl Le Grew has resigned to take up a position as vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania. Professor Le Grew has been head of Canterbury since 1998 and will leave in late September. The Deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Bob Kirk will take over as acting vice-chancellor until an appointment is made.

The new Progressive Coalition Party of former Alliance leader, Jim Anderton says its tertiary education policy is to scrap fees and student loans. The party says it will also "progressively" fund a student allowance to enable students to meet their living costs without having to borrow. Other aspects of the policy include care of overseas students to be written into the charters of education institutions and a tertiary education staffing unit to advise government.

The Massey University branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS) has a vacancy for an organiser based at the Palmerston North campus. The successful candidate will be an experienced organiser with advocacy, communication, organising and administrative skills and the ability to work under pressure. Although based at Palmerston North, the organiser will also serve AUS members at Massey's campuses in Albany and Wellington. Applications close on Monday 12 August 2002. For more information and a job description, contact the Association of University Staff, P. O Box 11-767, Wellington, phone 04 915 6690 or e-mail


A survey of more than 8,000 academic and general staff at 17 Australian universities has shown high levels of workplace stress, especially among academic staff at intermediate levels. The survey reports that around 30% of academic staff are working more than 55 hours a week, and the health impacts reported range from sleeping disorders and headaches through to hypertension and coronary heart disease. The national president of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Dr Carolyn Allport says the survey is timely given the government's current review of higher education and illustrates the human costs of the funding crisis facing Australian universities.

Renowned journalist, John Pilger reports that a 1948 attack by Jewish militia on a Palestinian village near Haifa in which more than 200 villagers were killed has caused waves in modern-day Haifa University. He writes that a research student who questioned eyewitnesses to the incident for his masters degree had his degree annulled, despite getting a high grade, when the findings were reported in the news media. The student has drawn the support of a Haifa university Professor, Ilan Pappe, who calls the paper "a solid and convincing piece of work". Now, John Pilger says, Professor Pappe himself faces possible expulsion from the university after the dean of humanities demanded he be expelled for criticising the university over the case.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) says a Victorian government report reviewing university governance in the Australian state addresses many of the concerns raised by the union about the role of universities in an increasingly commercialised environment. The report recommends greater oversight of commercial operations by universities, strengthening provisions relating to conflict of interest, and introducing measures to prevent misuse of public funds. The report has also recommended against delegation of university council responsibilities.

Dr Ted Steele, who ran into trouble with Wollongong University authorities over allegations of soft marking of students, is to leave the university as part of a settlement of the dispute. Dr Steele was dismissed in February last year after a conflict over reported remarks that he had been instructed to upgrade the marks of two poorly performing students. The university maintained he had libelled the institution, and while Dr Steele denied he had made the remarks, he continued to criticise the handling of the marking. He was later reinstated after the university lost a federal court case over the way his dismissal was handled. The university then formally charged him with misconduct, but he refused to come before any inquiry, saying it would be a 'kangaroo court', and instead sought a financial payout. The settlement was announced last week after more than a month of private mediation.

The NTEU says the Australian government has offered 3% pay rises to senior university staff in three states to sign individual contracts because it fears the union's bargaining strength in the upcoming bargaining round. NTEU says the staff involved are reportedly being offered the extra money to sign Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) because the government and some university's fear the union's bargaining strength will allow staff to get a share of the proposed increased university investment. Government and university officials are not commenting on the reports.

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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